Kathua ac­cused plead not guilty, want narco anal­y­sis

Next hear­ing April 28 Sep­a­rate trial for ju­ve­nile

The Asian Age - - Front Page - YUSUF JAMEEL with agency in­puts

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.

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