New Delhi: Six of seven accused have been convicted by a Pathankot court in the brutal gangrape and murder case of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. Village head and prime accused Sanji Ram, two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Head constable Tilak Raj, Anand Verma and Parvesh Kumar have been held guilty by the special court. However, Sanji Ram’s son, Vishal, has been acquitted in the case.

Arguments on quantum of punishment is likely to be announced soon, TV reports said. The day-to-day in-camera trial that began in the first week of June last year after the Supreme Court directed that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir, concluded on June 3 last week.

Welcoming the verdict, National Conference (NC) leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said,”Amen to that. The guilty deserve the most severe punishment possible under law. And to those politicians who defended the accused, vilified the victim and threatened the legal system no words of condemnation are enough.”

Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal lauded the police for securing the conviction of the accused persons.
“Congratulations to Jammu and Kashmir police for getting Raisina Kathua rapists convicted. Politicians tried their best to sabotage the movement for justice to A (the victim). But the Honble Court and the law enforcement agencies stood their ground. Pray we never have to see such horror again,” he tweeted.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief also hailed the judgement. “Welcome the judgement. High time we stop playing politics over a heinous crime where an 8 year old child was drugged, raped repeatedly and then bludgeoned to death. Hope loopholes in our judicial system are not exploited & culprits get exemplary punishment,” Mufti stated.

The eight-year-old girl was abducted on January 10 last year and allegedly held captive inside a temple in Rasana village of Hiranagar area. She was allegedly drugged and raped repeatedly before being murdered. Her body was found dumped in the adjoining forest area on January 17.

According to the 15-page charge sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the minor girl had gone missing while grazing horses. “The abduction, rape and killing of the Bakerwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area,” it added.

The case had become a bone of contention between the then ruling alliance partners PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the saffron party, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, backing the accused who were arrested by the state crime branch.