The gruesome rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu & Kashmir's Kathua district had sparked outrage across the country. The minor girl belonged to the nomadic Bakherwal Muslim community. Her body was recovered from Rassana forest on January 17, a week after she went missing.
The Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police was in charge of the investigation. It filed two separate charge sheets against the eight accused in the murder case. Among the accused, there were two Special Police Officers, (SPOs) and a head constable.
"We have filed a separate challan (charge sheet) against another accused in the court today," a top police officer told agencies.
Former revenue official and the alleged conspirator, Sanji Ram (60), surrendered before the crime branch in March. His son Vishal was arrested from Uttar Pradesh earlier.
Amid the pressure from the local political parties, the Mehbooba Mufti government handed over the investigation of the case to the crime branch of Jammu & Kashmir police.
Here are all latest updates around the Kathua rape case and the story so far:
1. Jammu Bar Association called for a strike on Thursday: Jammu Bar Association called for a strike on Wednesday alleging that Dogras of Jammu and Kashmir in Hiranagar were being targeted in the probe by the crime branch. The bar association demand for a CBI probe into the matter which was turned down by the Mufti government.
The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI) decided to keep themselves away from the strike as the matter is sub-judiced, said JCCI president Rakesh Gupta.
2. What is there in the charge sheet? Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch filed two separate charge sheets in the brutal rape case of eight-year-old. One charge sheet has been filed against seven of the eight accused, while a separate charge sheet is being filed against one of accused who allegedly a minor.
"The seven accused are 60-year-old Sanji Ram, Special Police Officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj, civilian Parvesh Kumar and Sanji's minor son Vishala," police said.
3. Lawyers booked for protesting while filing charge sheet: An FIR was registered against lawyers who tried to block while entering the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. "The FIR has been lodged into the incident wherein some lawyers tried to obstruct the presenting of the charge sheet by the Crime Branch in the court of a Chief Judicial Magistrate at Kathua on Monday. An action under the law will be taken against those found involved in the incident," Director General of Police SP Vaid told.
"All the members of the Bar have strongly agitated against the presentation of challan (charge sheet) by the Crime Branch in the Rassana case," president of the Kathua Bar Association, Kirty Bhushan Mahajan, said in a statement.
4. Blame-game by political parties: Political parties also traded charges over the handling of the case and the issue acquired a communal hue due to the alleged association of the accused with a right-wing group.
It was found during investigations that a group 'Hindu Ekta Manch', which was spread heading an agitation against state police's probe, had also been opposing the settlement of Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes in Kathua, an official said.
The matter escalated when two BJP ministers in the ruling coalition -- Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Parkash Ganga and Forest Minister Lal Singh hit out at the police for arresting "one or the other person at will".
We too want that the real accused are punished...We have heard you. We will not allow this jungle raj, under which they (police) are picking up people at will, to continue. What kind of investigation are they doing? Forest Minister Lal Singh said questioning why the probe was not being handed over to the CBI.
5. Congress slams lawyers for trying to prevent filing charge sheet in Kathua case: Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president Ghulam Ahmad Mir today lashed out at lawyers who tried to prevent the Crime Branch officials from presenting the charge sheet in the case of rape-and-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
"I am surprised by this move. It is politically motivated, obnoxious and conspiracy to achieve something out of this heinous crime for those hindering the process of justice," Mir said in a statement here.
6. The girl had been held captive: DNA tests of the nomadic girl raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district in January this year have confirmed that she was held captive inside a temple before being murder, police officials said on Wednesday.
Top sources in the state police Crime branch said that the DNA of hair strands found inside the temple matched with those of 8-year old Asifa who was raped and subsequently murdered in Rasana village of Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua.
"The temple premises were searched for evidence and clues after one of the accused confirmed the minor had been held in captivity inside the temple," a Crime Branch source said.
The postmortem report of the victim has already confirmed that she had been sedated before being raped and murdered.
7. Why the attack? Sanji Ram, a retired official of the Revenue Department is believed to have masterminded the heinous crime to create fear among the nomad 'Bakerwal' (goatherd) community in the village. He is the custodian of the temple where the girl was allegedly held in captivity. He had said the girl was drugged and raped before being killed.
Earlier, an official had said investigation has revealed that it was a pre-planned killing carried out with the intention of instilling fear among the Bakharwal nomads residing in the area and driving them out.
His son Vishal was also arrested earlier.
8. Head Constable took a bribe? The charge sheet says that Head Constable Raj, who was part of the search party, had asked for a bribe. On January 12, Ram sent Rs 150,000 to Raj, reports the Indian Express.
9. Demand for a CBI probe: Earlier, the workers of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) staged a protest, demanding a CBI probe into the rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old girl in January.
The protesters raised slogans against the governments, both state and central, and later submitted a memorandum addressed to Director CBI through the regional CBI SP Jai Parkash Mishra.
"The CBI would have no problem in investigating the matter in case it was handed over to it by the competent authority," said Mishra.
The protesters demanded an impartial and fair investigation into the murder case "so that the actual perpetrators of heinous crime are booked under the law".
10. BJP for CBI probe: In a statement, state BJP spokesperson Virender Gupta claimed that the way investigating agencies were conducting the probe has led to a mass exodus in the area and deterioration in law and order situation.
Endorsing the demand of the people of Kathua for a CBI probe, the BJP spokesperson said the culprits had to be strictly dealt with and punished. However, he expressed shock and anguish the way investigating agencies were conducting the probe which has led to a mass exodus in the area and deterioration in the situation.