Jammu lawyers call for complete shutdown, CBI probe in Kathua rape case

Kathua rape-murder case Asifa’s uterus was injured medical report confirms brutal sexual assault

Rape and murder case of a minor girl from Rasana village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua had made headlines in the month of January 2018.

Pertinently, on Monday, a group of lawyers in Jammu had prevented Crime Branch (CB) of Jammu and Kashmir Police from filing charge sheet into rape-and-murder of eight-year-old girl Asifa Bano at Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Kathua. It lists the caretaker of the Devisthan, a small temple, in Rassana village in Kathua, about 90 km from Jammu, as the main conspirator behind the abduction, rape and killing. They are mainly goatherds and shepherds (Gadaria). Eight people, including two special police officers, have been arrested in connection with the crime. The chargesheet further states: "Khajuria...came to the house of accused Sanji Ram with another police official namely Iftikar Wani..." A separate chargesheet was filed against a juvenile accused on Tuesday.

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By then, the search team - comprising Khajuria - was already looking for the eight-year-old girl.

Several lawyers' bodies in Pir Panjal and the Chenab Valley have also opposed the bandh call. The document lays bare the larger conspiracy to instil fear in the Bakerwal community and explains in chilling detail how it was carried out. After being missing for a week, her body was found on January 17. The girl was later strangulated and her head was smashed with a stone. An organisation called the Hindu Ekta Manch protested the arrest of one of their members Deepak Khajuria, who allegedly abducted the victim, who is from the Bakherwal community (Muslim), and kept her in confinement for seven days. According to the chargesheet, the accused gave the girl sedatives to make her unconscious while holding her in captivity at the Devisthan'. Meanwhile, it has been reported that a medical examination of the juvenile has proved he is an adult, but the court is yet to take cognizance of the report.

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As per the chargesheet, the juvenile on January 11 asked his cousin Jangotra, who was studying in Meerut, to return in order to "satisfy his lust". Ram and his nephew performed the usual rituals to avoid suspicion. That day again "Khajuria and the juvenile opened the Devasthan inside the temple and again sedated the girl by pushing sedatives into her mouth and forced her to drink water subsequently". Even after that, in a barbaric manner, one accused raped her again while other culprits were waiting. According to the chargesheet, the girl was then gang-raped before being killed by the juvenile.

However, the incident took a odd turn later when large number of people of Kathua took to the streets, waving the national flag and demanding unconditional release of the main accused Deepak Khajuria who is a Special Police Officer (SPO). The mastermind behind the entire episode is said to be one Sanji Ram, a retired revenue official who is among the eight arrested along with his son Vishal Jangotra and nephew, believed to be a juvenile. Earlier, the police sources told Newsclick that the juvenile kept updating his cousin Vishal, who was giving exams in Meerut University about the plot.

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The charge sheet says that Head Constable Raj, who was part of the search party, had asked Ram to bribe the police team. However, Ram paid Raj Rs 1 lakh to be passed on to sub-inspector Dutta. It has been revealed that the blood-stained clothes of the victim were washed to remove any evidence.

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