A lawyer defending some of the accused in the Kathua rape-and-murder case today claimed that "jihadis" are behind the gruesome incident and that the body of the eight-year-old girl had been planted to change the religious demography of the Jammu and Kashmir.
The allegation, for which Ankur Sharma had no substantial evidence to support, came a day after the complainant in the case finished recording his statement before the district and sessions court at Pathankot, during which he said Sanji Ram, one of the main accused, had been targeting the nomadic community so that they don't settle in the village.
However, judicial experts expressed surprise at the claims and demands from the lawyer as the case had been entrusted to the district and sessions court on the directions of the Supreme Court and the trial court had already framed charges against the accused.
In his opening remarks, Sharma said the case should be handed over to the CBI because "jihadis have committed the murder and planted the body there and the murder has been committed to change the religious demography of the area."
It may be mentioned that Sharma along with other defence lawyers had approached the Supreme Court in May this year for handing over of the case to the CBI. However, the request was turned down and the apex court instead ordered shifting of trial to Pathankot in Punjab from the Kathua sessions court.
The eight-year-old girl, belonging to a minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village close to Kathua in the Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.
Sharma also demanded revocation of the minutes of a meeting chaired by former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti in February this year, alleging that the order of the ministry of tribal affairs was still in force to ensure demographic changes in Hindu-majority areas of Jammu.
As per the order, nomads, who keep on flocking their sheep in Jammu in winter months and Kashmir during summer, can build their temporary shelters on government lands.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)