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  India   All India  20 Apr 2018  Kin of accused reiterate demand for CBI inquiry

Kin of accused reiterate demand for CBI inquiry

THE ASIAN AGE. | YUSUF JAMEEL
Published : Apr 20, 2018, 1:58 am IST
Updated : Apr 20, 2018, 4:11 pm IST

Four local women, including the spouse of one of the alleged ‘plotter’ Sanji Ram, are on ‘fast-unto-death’.

The participants have pledged to continue to provoke feelings of “guilt” in the government and others and reiterated their demand that the incident should be probed by the CBI.
 The participants have pledged to continue to provoke feelings of “guilt” in the government and others and reiterated their demand that the incident should be probed by the CBI.

Srinagar: The protest dharna by relatives, neighbours and friends of the Kathua gangrape and murder accused entered the 20th day on Thursday.

The participants have pledged to continue to provoke feelings of “guilt” in the government and others and reiterated their demand that the incident be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Four local women, including the spouse of one the alleged ‘plotters’ Sanji Ram, are on ‘fast unto death’ and police officials have if the situation demands they will invoke the relevant section of the Ranbir Penal Code to remove them forcibly.

They said that ‘fast unto death’ tantamount to committing suicide and a person who does it or abets the commission of it is liable to be punished with simple imprisonment for a term, which may extend to one year, or a fine, or both.

“Who cares?” said one of the women on this fast. “What is left to be afraid of,” she asked. “We will do all that’s within our reach to stir up the guilt of the people in government and political parties,” another participant vowed.

The “guilt”, he said is; “our dear ones have been framed and the entire Hindu community of Rasana is being condemned for no fault of theirs.”

An 8-year-old nomadic Bakarwal (herdsmen) girl went missing while grazing horses in Rasana village of Hiranagar tehsil in Kathua district in the second week of January this year. A week later, her battered corpse was found lying in the woods, a few hundred yards away from her makeshift home.

The DNA report and investigations by the Crime Branch (CB) of Jammu and Kashmir police revealed the minor girl was held captive inside Rasana’s Devasthan temple where she was drugged and then gangraped before her brutal murder.

The Crime Branch arrested eight people including Sanji Ram, a former government official and custodian of the temple, and his son Vishal Kumar. Two separate charge-sheets were filed in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) at Kathua on April 9 and 10. During the first hearing of the case, which took place earlier this week, all the accused pleaded not guilty.

When visited by a group of reporters the residents on dharna at Kootah Morh of Kathua said the investigations done by CB were “dubious” as it left several leads into the incident untouched. One of these, they said, was the “feud” between the biological parents of the victim and her maternal uncle and his wife who took her under their care when she was only one year old. “The real parents wanted the child back but the couple with which she was living for the past seven years refused to part with her, leading to strained relations between the two families,” said Sanji Ram’s daughter Madhu Sharma.

She said village elders had requested CB officials to take note of this aspect and call both the real and foster parents of the girl for questioning “but they just ignored us”. She claimed the Station House Officer (SHO) of Hiranagar was placed under suspension after he detained one of the relatives of the girl for questioning. The CB investigations say two police officers, whose services have since been terminated by the government, were arrested for destroying evidence in lieu of money.

The protesters said one of the police officers in the CB team Urfan Wani had “doubtful integrity” for he was earlier suspended and arrested over murder and rape charges. The police authorities have already clarified the allegations against the officer have turned out to be false and politically motivated during proper departmental investigations and that he was reinstated only after the court had exonerated him of all charges.

“What the CB has said in its charge-sheet is a false and concocted story. They have said my father asked my brother to come to Rasana all the way from Meerut where he was pursuing his studies to become a partner in the crime,” Madhu said. She asked, “Is it possible that a father will ask his son to come home to rape a girl?”

“My brother was studying in an agricultural university in Meerut and they say his father asked him to leave his studies midway and come home because he wanted him to rape a minor girl. Can a father be so cruel and despicable? Which civilization allows it?” asked Madu’s younger sister Monika.

The villagers said the CB also ignored their plea to find out who were the two youth who had come to Rasana on a motorcycle and -- after taking a full round of the village -- left in same speed shortly before the girl’s body was found on January 17.

The previous night the power transformer of the village was found damaged under mysterious circumstances. “After a loud bang, the electricity supply was snapped. How did it happen and was it a related development? The CB officials did not bother to find out either,” said Monika.

The siblings also claimed that the Devesthan temple is visited by hundreds of people of Rasana and neighbouring villages on mornings and evenings every day and has many windows and three doors opening on different directions. “Is it possible to keep a girl hostage inside such a place away from the eyes of visitors who come to the temple for darshan and who perform puja in large numbers every morning and every evening?” asked Madhu.

She also said being the abode of Nag Devta, Hanuman and Pirbaba, Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer and main accused in the case, could not visit the place of worship as per Hindu mythology. “He can’t visit a temple which is the abode of Nag Devta,” she said but did not elaborate.

Rejecting the CB findings as a “conspiracy” to paint the entire population of Rasana as “rapists and murderers”, the protesters said the incident has been seized by vested interests, to create a Hindu-Muslim divide.

“Those arrested are innocent. The police has failed to lay its hands on the real culprits. That’s why we want a probe by the CBI,” said yet another villager. “Hiranagar, including Rasana, is the land of patriots who have been projected before the world as criminals and rapists or their supporters. This ignominious tag has to go,” Sham Kishore, another participant of the dharna, told reporters.

Tags: kathua gangrape and murder, fast-unto-death