New Delhi: Giving its verdict in the gangrape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, a Pathankot court on Monday awarded life imprisonment to three prime convicts– Deepak Khajuria, Pravesh Kumar and Sanjhi Ram. Further, a five-year jail term was announced for the other three convicts.

Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra was acquitted as Zee News had shown him to have a strong alibi.

Considering the gravity of their crime, the three main accused, Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar were awarded sentences under different sections: Life imprisonment and penalty of Rs 1 lakh; imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs 50,000; rigorous imprisonment for 25 years and a Rs 50,000 fine; rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and Rs 50,000 fine and rigorous imprisonment for seven years and a fine of Rs 50,000.

Kumar was additionally awarded rigorous imprisonment for 10 years plus a Rs 25,000 fine, said reports.

“Our observation is that the three main accused have been sentenced to prison till their death. The court was asked whether the prison sentences would run concurrently, the judge said that the definition of life imprisonment as it was defined would apply in this case,” reports quoted the public prosecutor as telling media later.

The main accused were convicted for criminal conspiracy, murder, kidnapping, gang rape, destruction of evidence and drugging the victim.

Meanwhile, Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and SPO Surender Verma were convicted for destruction of evidence under Section 201 of the RPC and were sentenced to five-year rigorous imprisonment plus a fine of Rs 50,000 each.

The mother of Vishal Jangotra, the only accused to be acquitted, thanked Zee News for accessing the ATM footage that showed him as being in Muzaffarnagar in UP when the chargesheet claimed he was in Kathua when the crime was committed in January last year. On his acquittal, his mother said, “I would like to thank Zee News for accessing the ATM footage. We are grateful. We have always said my son is innocent. My husband too is innocent and it would be proven.”

Reacting to the punishment, National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma said, “I was expecting capital punishment for Kathua rape and murder criminals. Jammu and Kashmir government must go for appeal in a higher court.”