‘Aim of kidnapping was to scare, drive away the nomadic communities’
Jammu: Police investigating the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua say that Sanji Ram, one of the main accused, has told them during interrogation that he learnt about the rape four days after her abduction, and decided to have her killed because his son was also involved in the sexual assault.
The investigators say the girl, who was kidnapped on January 10, was first raped the same day by Ram’s nephew, a juvenile, and was killed on January 14. Her body was found on January 17 in a forest.
Along with the juvenile, Ram and his son Vishal, five others have been charged in the case, which has shaken the nation and led to the government promulgating an ordinance mandating death sentence for the rape of a child aged 12 and below.
The investigators told PTI that the girl, from the Muslim Bakarwal community, was kept in a “devisthan”, a small temple, where Ram was the custodian. The aim of the kidnapping was to scare and drive away the nomadic Gujjar and Bakarwal communities from the Hindu dominated area, they said.
Ram’s lawyer Ankur Sharma refused to comment on the investigators’ version of the incidents, saying it would not be appropriate for him to discuss defence strategy. “At least the defence lawyer should not be commenting on the merits of the case. It is like leaking your strategy as a defence lawyer,” he told PTI.
Sanjhi claims he found out about the sexual assault only on January 13 when the nephew confessed to him, according to the investigators. He told them that he had performed prayers at the “devisthan”, and asked his nephew to take prasad home. But the nephew delayed doing so, and in anger Ram beat him up, investigators said.
However, the juvenile thought his uncle had found out that he had raped the girl, and spilled the beans, they said. They claim the juvenile also implicated his cousin, Vishal, saying they both had raped the girl inside the ‘devisthan’.
It was then that Ram decided “that time was ripe to kill the girl so as to achieve the ultimate goal” of scaring away the nomads, according to the chargesheet filed in the case.