Five men have been convicted by the Special Court in Pathankot in connection with the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua on Monday. Village head Sanji Ram, two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma and Head constable Tilak Raj have been convicted. Sarpanch's son Vishal has been acquitted in the case. The in-camera trial in the case ended on June 3.Trial judge accepted Vishal's plea of alibi that he was taking an exam in UP's Muzaffarnagar on the date of the incident. District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh had announced that the verdict will be delivered on June 10. According to the 15-page chargesheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death. The quantum of punishment will be announced at 4pm.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was among first leaders to react on the verdict. “Welcome the judgement. High time we stop playing politics over a heinous crime where an 8 year old child was drugged, raped repeatedly & then bludgeoned to death. Hope loopholes in our judicial system are not exploited & culprits get exemplary punishment,” Mufti said on Twitter. Omar Abdullah also hailed the judgment and tweeted, “Amen to that (the verdict). The guilty deserve the most severe punishment possible under law. And to those politicians who defended the accused, vilified the victim & threatened the legal system no words of condemnation are enough. #KathuaRapeCase.”
The court framed charges under the Ranbir Penal Code(RPC), including Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376-D (gang-rape), according to the prosecution. The accused, if convicted, face minimum life imprisonment and maximum death penalty. The court also framed charges of destruction of evidence and causing hurt by poisoning under Section 328 of the RPC. The two policemen - Raj and Datta - were also charged under Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC. The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, the chargesheet said.
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