Asifa, an 8-year-old girl from Jammu & Kashmir's Kathua district, went missing on 10th January 2018 while grazing horses in a forest in J&K. Four days later, it was found that she was kidnapped, drugged, held captive in a temple, gang-raped repeatedly and then brutally murdered.
Today, more than a year after the Kathua rape and murder case, the verdict is finally out and six out of the seven accused have been found guilty by the court of Pathankot, Punjab.
Charges of rape and murder were framed against seven of the eight accused in the case; one of them claimed to be a minor so he wasn't tried on accounts of being a juvenile. Out of those seven, six have been charged guilty:
1. Sanji Ram, 61-year-old former government official, the village head, the temple priest and main accused in the case
2. Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer
3. Surinder Kumar, a special police officer
4. Tilak Raj, head constable
5. Anand Dutta, sub-inspector
6. Parvesh Kumar, a friend of Saji Ram's nephew
7. Vishal Jangotra, Sanji Ram's son (acquitted)
Those directly involved in the crime i.e. Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar have been held guilty under Section 302 (murder), 376D (gang rape) and 120B (criminal conspiracy), while the other three have been held guilty under Section 201 (destruction of evidence) under Jammu & Kashmir State Ranbir Penal Code (RPC). They allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence. Seventh accused, Vishal, has been acquitted of all charges.
The plea of the eighth accused, Sanji Ram's nephew, is pending before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court where they have challenged the decision of the trial court claiming he was a juvenile when the crime was committed.
The girl belonged to the Muslim nomadic community of Bakherwal, and Sanji Ram wanted to cause panic in the tribe forcing them to move out of the Rassana village in the Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district. In other words, the victim was used as a pawn by Sanji Ram to dislodge the community from his area.
Source: Janta Ka Reporter
The whole country came to the streets in protests and took to social media with the hashtags #JusticeForAsifa and #NotInGodsName demanding strict action against the accused. From Bollywood celebrities to our national leaders, everyone condemned the crime that was disgusting beyond imagination.
The quantum of punishment is yet to be announced. The six convicted, based on their charges, would face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment and a maximum of death penalty.
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