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Kathua rape-murder case verdict today: All 7 accused in Pathankot court

Kathua rape-murder case verdict today: All 7 accused in Pathankot court

A special court ruled today on the brutal gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua last year.

Six of the seven accused in the case were convicted earlier on Monday and the court sentenced three of them to life imprisonment.

Three others, including cops Surender Verma, Anand Dutta and Tilak Raj, who were booked under RPC Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) have been sentenced to five years in prison each. Son of main accused Sanjhi Ram has been given benefit of doubt in the case.

The charge sheet had stated that the minor was kidnapped and held captive at a temple on January 10 previous year, and that she was starved, drugged and raped repeatedly for several days.

Three men - including Ram and one police officer - were convicted of the rape and murder while a fourth was acquitted.

The prosecution had sought the death penalty for the three men - including a Hindu priest - who received life sentences.

On June 3, when the in-camera trial in the case had ended, district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh had announced that the verdict was likely to be delivered on June 10. Another accused, who has been charged as a juvenile is undergoing a separate trial.

The sentiment around the case prompted the top court to move the trial out of Jammu and Kashmir to a court in Pathankot in the northern state of Punjab and start the trial afresh.

However, the same day, one of her MPs, Meenakshi Lekhi, was profusely defending her party's cabinet ministers in the then Jammu and Kashmir government, saying that they were misled. However, the trial of the eighth accused, a juvenile is yet to begin as the petition on his age is pending for a hearing in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The trial of seven began in April previous year and concluded on June 3.

Lawyers in Kathua had prevented crime branch officials from filing the chargesheet.

The investigation conducted by the Crime Branch was concluded in record short time and the charge sheet was also submitted in short time.

Public outcry had followed the abduction, rape and murder of the minor girl in Rasana village of Kathua district on January 10 previous year. The others were found guilty of taking bribes and destroying evidence.

According to the charge sheet, the girl was abducted from her Muslim nomadic tribe in January 2018. The girl was strangled and her head smashed in with a rock. According to the information given by the police, the accused confessed to the abduction of the girl and said that she was forcibly given drugs, and was raped and killed when she resisted.