Six persons including main accused and temple priest Sanji Ram were on Monday convicted by the Pathankot court for the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua last year, which shook the conscience of the entire nation.
Sanji Ram’s son Vishal, however, has been acquitted in the case. Vishal is said to have been giving an exam in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district and was able to produce an alibi for the same.
The six accused in the Kathua rape case have been convicted under at least three sections including Ranbir Penal Codes’ Sections 201 (pertaining to the disappearance of evidence) and 120-B (pertaining to criminal conspiracy).
The six convicted include Sanji Ram, Sub-inspector Anand Dutta, special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, head constable Tilak Raj and Parvesh Kumar.
Those convicted may face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment and a maximum of death penalty.
The in-camera trial in the case ended on June 3 following which District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh announced that the verdict would be delivered today.
Tight security was put in place near the district and sessions court in Pathankot for the verdict.
Public outcry had followed the abduction, rape and murder of a minor nomadic girl in Rasana village of Kathua district on January 10 last year.
Investigations by the state crime branch had led to the arrest of eight accused. The crime branch sleuths collected forensic evidence and other bits and pieces to nail the culprits.
The outcry against the heinous crime led to strong polarisation between the then ruling partners, the PDP and the BJP which ultimately resulted in the resignation of two BJP ministers, Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, from the state cabinet.
The eight-year-old nomadic girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.
The day-to-day trial commenced in the first week of June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in Punjab after the Supreme Court ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.
The apex court order came after lawyers in Kathua prevented Crime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the case.