Kathua accused plead not guilty, want narco analysis
Next hearing April 28 Separate trial for juvenile
The eight people accused of raping and killing an eight- year- old girl pleaded not guilty and asked the judge for a narco analysis test as the trial into the case began here on Monday, a day after protests were staged across the country by citizens outraged by the heinous crime.
Seven of the eight accused were produced before district and sessions judge Sanjay Gupta who postponed the hearing in the matter for April 28.
The victim’s father has moved the Supreme Court seeking the transfer of the trial to Chandigarh from Kathua. The apex court on Monday asked the J& K government to reply by April 27 whether the plea for transfer should be allowed.
The eighth accused in the case is a juvenile who moved a bail application before chief judicial magistrate ( CJM) A. S. Langeh. A separate chargesheet was filed for him and he will be facing a separate trial.
The victim, from the Bakerwal nomadic community, was kidnapped on January 12, held captive in a local temple in
Kathua district for a week during which she was kept sedated and gangraped before being bludgeoned to death.
The gory incident has become the focal point of anger against rape and the brazen attempts to
shield rapists, with calls for awarding capital punishment to the culprits being made.
According to the chargesheets filed by the Crime Branch, the abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority, nomadic community from the area.
The accused include Sanji Ram, the caretaker of “devisthan” ( temple) who is a retired government official, his son, four police officers and a juvenile.
The accused were presented before the court which was packed with lawyers and heavy posse of policemen.
The counsel for the accused demanded a copy of the chargesheet filed by the Crime Branch on April 9 before the CJM.
Sanji Ram, listed as the main conspirator behind the crime, told the judge that they wanted narco analysis test and were ready for it.
Special police officer Deepak Khajuria, who is alleged to have repeatedly raped the child, told reporters that he was also demanding a narco test and a CBI probe.
Narco test does not have any legal sanctity as evidence until a court gives permission to conduct these tests. Even then, the test only helps as corroborative and not as primary evidence, say legal experts.
Lawyer A. K. Sawahney, who is pleading the case of police constable Tilak Raj charged with destruction of evidence, said that while the chief minister was talking about fast- track trial, challan copies had not been provided to them.
The chargesheet names the investigating officers — head constable Tilak Raj and subinspector Anand Dutta — for allegedly taking Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroying crucial evidence.
After a brief hearing during which the judge asked the state Crime Branch to give them copies of the chargesheet on Tuesday, the seven accused were shifted back to the jail under heavy security.
As the trial began inside the court, main accused Sanji Ram’s daughter Madhu Sharma protested outside, demanding a CBI probe.
There was heavy police presence at the Kathua complex following the tension on April 9 when members of the local bar association did not allow the Crime Branch to submit its chargesheet in the case.
Two Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) ministers — Chandra Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh — have resigned following accusations of attending the rally in support of the alleged culprits of the crime.
On Monday, a large number of people assembled on the road leading to the court, blocked it and held protests against a section of national media accusing it of “portraying” the demand for a CBI probe as pro- rapists and pro- culprits, thereby damaging the reputation of the entire village.
The Kathua rape victim’s lawyer Deepika Singh had earlier claimed that she has been threatened by the president of Jammu High Court Bar Association B. S. Salathia for representing the victim’s family in the court. She added that she had been called anti- Hindu and feared for her life.