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The Pathankot District Court today convicted six of the seven accused in the Kathua rape and murder case, according to news reports.
The quantum of sentence will be pronounced at 2 pm today, reports suggest.
[Update at 5:15 pm]: Reports suggest that three of the main accused – Sanjhi Ram, Deepak Khajuria, and Parvesh Kumar have been awarded life imprisonment. The three policemen convicted for destroying evidence in the case – Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj, and Surender Verma – have been awarded a sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment.
The case involved the abduction, rape and murder of an eight-year-old child in Kathua, Jammu & Kashmir back in January 2018.
The verdict was passed by District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh, who had reserved judgment on June 3.
On January 17, 2018, the dead body of the victim was found in Kathua by the police, days after her father had reported her missing. The girl was drugged and raped over several days before she was strangulated to death.
The criminal investigation culminated in the arrest of seven persons. They were charged with rape, kidnapping, attempt to destroy evidence, and criminal conspiracy under Jammu & Kashmir’s Ranbir Penal Code. The arrested men included a Hindu temple priest, his son, his nephew, as well as four policemen.
The case assumed communal undertones after a narrative emerged that the crime had been committed in an attempt to drive out the Muslim nomadic community to which child belonged to. Further controversy erupted after several sections of the public came out in open support of the accused, decrying their arrest as an attempt to victimise Hindus.
The lawyers appearing for the victim’s family, including Advocate Deepika Rajawat, had also approached the Supreme Court contending that they were being threatened against appearing in the matter by the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association.
The trial in the case initially commenced at Kathua in April last year. However, the volatile circumstances surrounding the case eventually prompted the Supreme Court to transfer the trial outside Jammu & Kashmir to the District and Sessions Court of Pathankot, Punjab.
The prosecution was represented by Special Public Prosecutor SS Bhasra and Public Prosecutor JC Chopra, among others. The accused were represented by Advocates Anil Sethi, Subhash Chander Sharma, AK Sawhney, HS Pathania, and others.
Image taken from here.