Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday filed a chargesheet against seven people, including senior police officers, in baby Asifa rape and murder case at the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court amid protest by 'lawyers' outside the court premises in a bid to prevent the move.
The body of eight-year-old Asifa, a nomad Muslim girl, was recovered from Rasana forest in Kathua district on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing her family’s ponies. The girl was held captive, sedated and raped for several days at a local temple before she was murdered, according to the Jammu & Kashmir Police Crime Branch investigation based on DNA test, forensic evidence and post-mortem report.
Further investigation found the involvement of, among others, some senior police officers including former revenue official and alleged mastermind Sanji Ram (60). Sanji Ram surrendered before the crime branch on March 20 after his son Vishal was arrested from Uttar Pradesh, Greater Kashmir reported. A police constable and a sub-inspector were also arrested after the crime branch found they allegedly tried to destroy evidence after the crime.
"The seven accused are 60-year-old Sanji Ram, Special Police Officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj, civilian Parvesh Kumar and Sanji's minor son Vishala," police said.
A Right wing group by the name of Hindu Ekta Manch was formed after the arrests of the Police Officers in order to save the accused by communalising the issue. According to reports, two senior BJP ministers Chandra Prakash Gupta and Lal Singh attended a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch and directed the police not to make any more arrests. “What if a girl has died? Many girls have died here”, BJP minister Lal Singh has reportedly said.
Taking the same line, lawyers protested against the police and blocked the court in Kathua, Jammu, to prevent the Jammu and Kashmir Police Crime Branch from filing the chargesheet in the case. The protesting lawyers were demanding that the case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a probe instead of being handle by the Jammu and Kashmir investigative authorities. After the protest outside the Kathua court, members of the Bar Association called a press release saying that all Bar members "strongly condemn the conduct of the Crime Branch in dealing with the issue."
The police however filed the chargesheet despite the resistance by the lawyers. "We’ve filed charge sheet against seven accused persons and charge sheet against a juvenile person will be filed separately,” Inspector General of Police (Crime Branch) Afhadul Mujtaba said, adding “There was some resistance and that has been tackled”.
The accused have been charged under Sections 302, 376, 201 and 120-B of the state’s Ranbir Penal Code. The Crime Branch said it was in the process of filing a separate chargesheet against a “juvenile”, who is allegedly among the main accused in the crime.
Meanwhile, the protest by the Bar Association, however, quickly drew outrage on social media, with many, including former chief minister Omar Abdullah, expressing anger. "Lawyers in Kathua Jammu tried to stop the J&K Police Crime Branch from filing a charge sheet in the case of the rape and murder of an 8-yr-old girl but some “news” channels are happier reporting outside a chola bhatura shop", Omar Abdullah tweeted.
"An 8-yr-old kidnapped, repeatedly raped, killed and mutilated by grown men, including cops. Investigations complete, but police can’t file the chargesheet in court. Because mobs of Kathua lawyers block the courts in “protest.” Reflect on this shame and obscenity", Shekhar Gupta, senior journalist, wrote on Twitter.
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