Eight year old’s rape and murder in Kathua : Six convicted

New Delhi : Six men have been held guilty in the gang-rape, torture and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua in January last year.

Those convicted by a special court in Pathankot include former government officer Sanji Ram, who was believed to be the mastermind.

They may face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment and a maximum of death penalty.

The child’s mutilated body was found in a forest area on January 17. Three days later, one of the accused – reportedly a juvenile – was arrested by police. The trial in his case is yet to begin because a petition on determining his age is yet to be heard by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place because of the high-profile nature of the case. The in-camera trial in the case ended on June 3, following which District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh announced that the verdict would be delivered today.

The case was handed over to the Crime Branch, following which a police sub-inspector and a head constable were arrested for destroying evidence. Sanji Ram, a retired revenue officer, surrendered on March 20 last year.

The investigations of the Crime Branch suggested that the girl was raped and murdered in an effort to strike fear among nomads frequenting the Kathua area and drive them out.

Besides Sanji Ram, the others arrested in the case were his son Vishal, a nephew whose age is being disputed, his friend Anand Dutta and two special police officers identified as Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. The policemen accused of destroying evidence are Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta.

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