Jammu, Apr 10 (PTI) The Jammu and Kashmir Police has filed FIR against a group of lawyers for protesting and attempting to prevent the Crime Branch officials from performing their duty of filing charge sheet against eight persons in the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl.

The body of the girl, from the Bakherwal community, a nomadic Muslim tribe, was recovered from the Rassana forest on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.

The Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, probing the alleged rape and murder of the girl in Kathua district, filed the charge sheet against seven of the eight accused in the case at a court in Kathua, amid protests by local lawyers yesterday.

The case has become communally sensitive and various political parties have jumped into the controversy with allegations and counter-allegations over handling of the matter.

Today, the Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, probing the alleged rape and murder of the minor girl, filed a separate charge sheet against a juvenile accused in the case at a court in Kathua district.

“An FIR has been lodged against a group of lawyers who held protests and tried to prevent the Crime Branch officials from performing their duty,” a senior police official told PTI.

He said that the lawyers have not been identified so far and their identification is part of the investigation.

Accompanied by the accused yesterday, a team of Crime Branch faced stiff resistance from the members of the Kathua Bar Association, who chanted slogans “go back crime branch” during filing of the charge sheet and held protests.

The Kathua Bar Association claimed that the Crime Branch was compelled to leave the premises without filing the charge sheet.

On January 23, the government had handed over the case to the Crime Branch of the state police which formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and arrested eight persons, including two special police officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destruction of evidence.

Among the accused, former revenue official and the alleged conspirator, Sanji Ram (60), surrendered before the Crime Branch on March 20 after his son, Vishal, was arrested from Uttar Pradesh.

“All the members of the Bar have strongly agitated against the presentation of challan (charge sheet) by the Crime Branch in the Rassana case,” president of the Kathua Bar Association, Kirty Bhushan Mahajan, said in a statement.

“The agitation of the Bar proved successful and the Crime Branch was compelled to go back and the challan could not be presented in the court of chief judicial magistrate Kathua,” he said.

He said the Bar is already on strike against the investigation of the case by the Crime Branch and strongly favours a CBI inquiry into the incident.

“All the Bar members strongly condemned the conduct of the Crime Branch in dealing the issue. The state government has failed to deal the issue or understand the sentiments of the people. The agitation of the Bar shall continue and it has unanimously decided to keep the work under suspension till April 12,” Mahajan said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.