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Kathua rape: SC tells Mufti govt to protect victim's kin, lawyer; updates

In the Kathua rape case trial, which began on Monday, the court set April 28 as the next date of hearing

Kathua rape case
Lawyers during a silent march to Bar Council of India to present a memorandum demanding action against the guilty lawyers of Jammu, who came in support of the culprits accused of raping and murdering an eight year old child in Kathua, in New Delh

The Kathua rape and murder case trial, which began in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, will see its next hearing on April 28. The eight people accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old girl on Monday pleaded not guilty and offered to undergo narco tests. As the trial in the case began, the district and sessions judge asked the state crime branch to give copies of the chargesheet to all the accused and fixed April 28 as the next date of hearing.

Of the eight people accused of the crime, one is a juvenile who is also under arrest. He has moved a bail application before a judicial magistrate which is yet to be heard.

The case relates to eight people allegedly holding an eight-year-old girl captive in a small village temple in the state's Kathua district for a week in January this year, sexually assaulting her, and then murdering her. The Kathua rape case trials began a day after protests were staged in various parts of the country by citizens outraged by the heinous crime.

After the Jammu Bar association and the Kathua Bar received a rap on the kuckles by the Supreme Court on April 13, as the apex court took a strong note of certain lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the case, the Kathua trial is expected to be conducted smoothly. However, the Supreme Court's actions in the matter and the Indian civil society's demand for justice in the Kathua case have not eased the challenges faced by the lawyer of the victim's family. The Kathua rape victim's lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat on Sunday said that she feared for her life as she might get raped or murdered. She added that she had been called anti-Hindu and boycotted socially.

The charge sheets filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police's crime branch state that the abduction, rape, and killing of the minor Bakerwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy aimed at forcing the minority nomadic community out of the area. 

A group of former civil servants on Sunday issued a strongly worded open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, holding him responsible "more than anyone else" for the "terrifying state of affairs" in the country. The letter asked Modi to check India's "free fall into anarchy" by taking tough action against the alleged perpetrators of the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and the perpetrators of other hate crimes across the country. Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers -- Chandra Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh -- have resigned following accusations of attending a rally in support of the alleged culprits of the crime.

What is narco-analysis test?

Narco-analysis, also known as the truth serum test, is a method to extract information from an accused when he/she is in a hypnotic state. The procedure is carried out under the guidance of doctors and after the permission of the accused, who is told beforehand how it will be carried out.

A sedative injection, known as Thiopentone is made by chemicals such as sodium pentothal or sodium amytal, to put a person in a hypnotic-like state. The subject’s imagination is neutralised by making him semi-conscious, a state where it is believed that it will become difficult for the subject to lie and his answers would be restricted to facts his subconscious mind is already aware of. 

The entire process takes about one-three hours and the subject regains consciousness 15 minutes after the test is completed. A narco-analysis test can only be used as supportive evidence and cannot be produced as a standalone evidence in court. 

Here are the top 10 developments in the Kathua rape and murder case: 

1) We want justice, hang the culprits, say victim's parents:
"We want justice, the culprits should be hanged. We feel the need for having security as anything can happen," Kathua rape victim's father said, according to news agency ANI. The victim's mother said, "We just want justice for my daughter."


The victim's father is seeking the transfer of the trial to Chandigarh from Kathua, according to a Times of India report.

The grief-stricken family of the eight-year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, had set off on their annual journey to the pasture lands deep in the hills of the state, with the hope that justice will be done in the case. The family, belonging to the Bakerwal community, quietly packed their bags, saddled their horses and set off on the arduous journey to the higher hills a few days ago, the police said.

Kathua rape case
Students hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against the rape and murder of a 8-year-old girl in Kathua


2) SC issues notice to J&K govtSupreme Court sought the Jammu and Kashmir government's response on a plea for transferring the trail of the Kathua rape and murder case to Chandigarh.

Seeking the response, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed the state to provide adequate security to the victim's family, their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat, her family and Talib Hussain -- a member of the local Bakerwal community -- who is helping the victim's family in the case.

The court order came on victim father's plea seeking transfer of trial and protection.

Senior counsel Indira Jaising, appealing for the victim's father, expressed satisfaction with the investigation and told the court that they wanted transfer of the trail so that it could be a fair one.



3) Lawyers take out silent march. Several lawyers in Delhi took out a silent march demanding that the licenses of those lawyers who stood for the accused should be cancelled. 


A panel has been constituted to probe the actions of Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association lawyers who had stopped the police from filing a charge sheet in the Kathua rape and murder case, the Bar Council of India (BCI) said on Sunday. Amid nation-wide outrage and the Supreme Court taking cognisance of the matter, BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said, "In the meeting, we decided that a five-member team will investigate the case. The team will go to Kathua and Jammu and talk to people about the conduct of the Bar Association." Further, Mishra said that a report based on the investigation will be submitted to the Supreme Court by April 19. 

"If any lawyer is found guilty in the case, we have the rights to cancel their license for a lifetime," Mishra said. The BCI chairman also said that the bar association has been told to withdraw its strike.

Two first information reports (FIRs) have been filed in connection with the Kathua rape case: One against eight people for allegedly being involved in the crime and another against a group of lawyers, which had allegedly stopped the police from filing a charge sheet against the eight accused.

4) Jammu lawyers suspend agitation, resume workThe Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHCBA) on Monday resumed work after staying away from courts for 12 days in support of their various demands including handing over the Kathua rape and murder case to CBI and deportation of illegally settled Rohingyas.
The general house decided to temporarily suspend the agitation, responding to the appeal of Bar Council of India (BCI), and the Supreme Court taking cognizance of the issue (Kathua rape and murder case), Slathia told PTI.

The JHCBA went on a four-day strike initially on April 4 in support of four demands, which included clarity from the government on tribal affairs and district status to Nowshehra sub-division in Rajouri district. It later extended the strike till April 17.

5) Hoax strike call over Kathua incident triggers tension in KeralaA 'hoax' strike call on social media to protest the alleged gangrape triggered tension in various parts of Kerala on Monday, prompting the police to sound a high alert.

A message had been spreading via social media platforms since Sunday that a state-wide strike against the Kathua incident would be observed on Monday, urging people to join the protest.

Hundreds of persons were taken into custody in various places of the southern state for blocking public transport buses, forcibly downing shutters of shops and pelting stones at vehicles in the name of hartal.

In Kannur, police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse protesters, who also tried to barge into the Town Police station besides trying to disrupt traffic and forcibly closing down shops.

Protest marches holding pictures of the hapless rape victim were held in various places, including the Ernakulam district.

The police, however, asserted that no political party or outfit had called for the hartal.

They said that the hoax hartal call went viral as social media users shared the message without checking its veracity.

6) Next Kathua rape case trial hearing on April 28: In the Kathua rape case trial, which began on Monday, the court set April 28 as the next date of hearing, said Ankur Sharma, the counsel for the accused. Sharma also said that the court directed that charge sheet copies be provided to all accused. He added: "We are ready for narco tests."


Sikh special public prosecutors appointed for Kathua rape case trial to ensure 'neutrality': Two special public prosecutors, both Sikhs, have been appointed by the Jammu and Kashmir government for the trial in the sensitive Kathua rape case. This move is being seen as an attempt to ensure "neutrality" in view of the Hindu-Muslim polarisation over the case. 

Who are the eight accused in the Kathua rape and murder case? The charge sheet filed by the crime branch lists Sanji Ram, the caretaker of a small temple called 'Devisthan' in a village in Kathua, as the main conspirator behind the crime. Sanji Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar (alias Mannu), Ram's juvenile nephew, and his son Vishal Jangotra (alias Shamma) in commiting the crime. The charge sheet also names the investigating police officers -- head constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta -- for allegedly taking Rs 400,000 (Rs 4 lakh) from Ram and destroying crucial evidence in the Kathua case. All eight are under arrest. 

Read our earlier coverage on the Kathua rape case developments here: Kathua rape: Ensure justice, UN to govt; BJP-PDP alliance under threat?

7) Accused's lawyer says 'we are handicapped': Aseem Sahni, the lawyer representing constable Tilak Raj, one of the accused in the Kathua case, said on Monday that the copy of the full charge sheet had not been provided to the defence. "We are depending on information from social media. We are handicapped," he said. 



8) Rahul wants Modi to fast-track rape cases: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fast-track rape cases involving rape of minors if he was serious about providing justice.

Gandhi tweeted that a total of 19,675 rapes of minors were reported in 2016 and called it shameful.

"PM should fast-track these cases and punish the guilty if he is serious about providing 'justice for our daughters'," he said.


9) Nirbhaya's mother blames delay in justice for Kathua, Unnao: Asha Devi, the mother of Nirbhaya, the 23-year-old victim of the brutal 2012 Delhi gangrape case, said that crimes like the Unnao and Kathua rape cases were taking place as the slow pace of judicial system was not instilling any fear in the minds of the culprits. The brutal 2012 Delhi gangrape case, often called the Nirbhaya case, had shaken the nation's conscience. However, little appears to have changed on the ground when it comes to preventing crimes against women and children in the country since then. 


Nirbhaya's mother said, "I feel very sad that we have progressed a lot as a society but our daughters are still not safe today. I demand rapists should be hanged." Nirbhaya, who had been gangraped on a moving bus in the national capital on December 16, 2012, had succumbed in a Singapore hospital a fortnight later on December 29.  

Read what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to say about the Kathua and Unnao rape cases here: Kathua and Unnao aftermath: PM Modi says criminals will not be spared 

10) Kathua rape victim's lawyer fears she may be killed or raped: The lawyer representing the Kathua rape victim's family, Deepika Singh Rajawat, on Sunday said that she fears for her life and that she may be raped or murdered. "Today, I don't know, I am not in my senses. I can be raped. I can be killed and may be they won't allow me to practice in court," said Advocate Rajawat, adding, "They (have) isolated me, I don't know how I can survive." She added that she has been labeled anti-Hindu and socially boycotted.   



Read our earlier coverage on the Kathua and Unnao rape case developments here: Modi denounces Kathua, Unnao rapes; 2 BJP J&K ministers resign: Updates 

11) 'Hang him, but only after CBI probe into Kathua rape case': Kathua rape and murder case alleged conspirator Sanji Ram's family members have said that he should be hanged publicly but only if a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case finds him guilty. The family members also criticised the media for portraying their agitation demading a CBI probe into the case as "pro-rapists" and "pro-culprits". Ram's family members have been demanding an "impartial investigation by a credible agency" into the Kathua case. Sixteen women, who were on a fast demanding a CBI probe into the case, have been hospitalised in the past 15 days.

Read the details of the Kathua rape and murder case trials that are set to begin today here: Trials in Kathua rape and murder case begin today against 8 accused   

Kathua rape case accused Sanji Ram's daughter asks how a father could call his son to rape a minor: One of Kathua rape case alleged conspirators Sanji Ram's daughters questioned the crime branch's investigation, asking how could a father call his son for raping a minor girl -- as claimed in the charge sheet. "Can you imagine what this (statement in the crime branch's charge sheet) means? It is shameful that someone says an old man called his young son from his college in UP to rape a little girl," she said. Further, she claimed that the issue was being politicised and that her family's voice was being muzzled in a political war.

ALSO READ: Another Kathua? 11-year-old found dead in Surat with 86 injury marks

12) Bar Association of Kathua takes back offer to defend Kathua rape accused free of cost: The Bar Association of Kathua has retracted its earlier statement of providing legal assistance free of cost to the accused in the Kathua rape case. It said that after going through the charge sheet presented by the crime branch (against the accused in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate on April 9), it was revealed that the allegations against the accused persons are very grave and, as such, this case is to be dealt with in a professional way. 

"As such, we have withdrawn our offer to contest the case free of cost. Accused are free to engage any individual advocate and exercise their respective rights of defence in the court. It is for any individual advocate to accept the brief and the bar association will not come in the way of defence nor the bar association will hamper the prosecution," Bar Association of Kathua President Kirty Bhushan Mahajan said in a seven-page statement. 

Members of the same association had stopped crime branch personnel from submitting the charge sheet before the chief judicial magistrate for six hours, forcing the police to present it at the house of the magistrate.

Read Mihir Sharma's opinion piece for Business Standard on crimes against women in India in the wake of the Kathua and Unnao rape cases: The rape cases of 2012 & 2018 that shook the nation 

13) Protests in Delhi and Mumbai seek justice for Kathua and Unnao rape case victims: Outraged by th Kathua and Unnao rape cases, hundreds of people on Sunday participated in a protest march called "Not In My Name" at Parliament Street in the national capital against the increasing incidents of rape and atrocities on Dalits and minorities. The protest included artistes and students, who vented their anger over the incidents and claimed that Muslims in the country were living in fear. They said the rights of Dalits and Adivasis were being questioned. 

The participants at the "Not In My Name" protest also sought the immediate arrest of the two BJP ministers who led rallies of the Hindu Ekta Manch in Kathua on March 1 in support of the accused in the rape and killing of the eight-year-old girl. 

Bollywood celebrities, along with thousands of Mumbaikars, gathered on Sunday for a peaceful protest against the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua and the sexual assault of another young girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. Bollywood celebrities like Rajkummar Rao, Patralekha, Sameera Reddy, Twinkle Khanna, along with her son Arav, Akshay Kumar, actress Tara Sharma, music director Vishal Dadlani, singer and social activist Sona Mohapatra, filmmaker Kiran Rao, Aditi Rao Hydari, and veteran actress Helen were among many others who came on the streets of Bandra to protest against the incidents of rape and seek justice.


   


With agency inputs