Over a year after the gruesome rape and murder of an eight-year-old giri in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir that caused nationwide outrage, a Pathankot court convicted mastermind Sanjhi Ram and two others for murder, gangrape and conspiracy and sentenced them to life imprisonment while three police officials were found guilty of destroying evidence and given five-year jail terms.
In what could give a sense of some closure to the parents of the Muslim nomadic girl, District and Sessions judge prounounced the three main accused--Sanji Ram, Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria--guilty and convicted them under Sections 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 376 (d) (gang rape), 328 (Causing hurt by means of poison), 363 (Kidnapping or maiming a minor), 201 (destruction of evidence) and 343 (Wrongful confinement for three or more days) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).
"Under the murder charge, the trio has been imprisoned to life with a fine of 1 lakh while they will have to serve 25 years in jail each, with a fine of Rs 50,000 for the charge of gang rape. Under 120 (b) of the RPC, the three convicts will be imprisoned for life and will have to pay Rs 50,000" Mubeen Farooqui, victim's advocate told reporters outside the court.
Parvesh Kumar has additionally been found guilty under Sections 376 (d) read with 511 (Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or imprisonment). The court has directed him to pay Rs 25,000 as a fine under this section.
Police officials Anand Dutt, Sub Inspector, Tilak Raj (Head Constable) and Surender Verma, Special Police Officer, have been sentenced to five years in jail under section 201 of RPC for causing destruction of evidence. They have also been directed to pay Rs 20,000 each.
The court delivered the much-awaited judgement in the morning convicting the six out of seven accused who were involved in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua in January 2018. It fixed the hearing in the evening for pronouncing the quantum of sentence.
Village head Sanji Ram, his friend Parvesh Kumar, two Special Police Officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Head Constable Tilak Raj, Sub Inspector Anand Dutta were found guilty. Vishal, the son of Sanjhi Ram, was acquitted while the seventh accused is a minor and his trial is yet to begin as the question of his age is yet to be determined.
Speaking to media persons, Special Public Prosecutor Santokh Singh Basra said: "Acquittal of Vishal was on the basis of forged documents he had shown during the trial. The prosecution side will file an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to challenge the order of the Pathankot court."
The incident that took place in January last year created passions in Jammu and Kashmir with lawyers in the Jammu region refusing to take up the case. The case was later transferred to Punjab on Supreme Court's order so that a fair trial could be held.
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