Asifa case: Court directs chargesheet copies be provided to all accused
Kathua district court today directed that chargesheet copies be provided to all the accused in the gangrape-torture-murder of an eight-year-old girl in the district in Jammu and Kashmir in January.The court set the next hearing date as April 28. All the accused were brought to court today. The eight-year-old girl was allegedly kept captive in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January this year. During that week she was allegedly kept sedated and sexually assaulted several times before being bludgeoned to death.The Jammu and Kashmir government has appointed two special public prosecutors, both Sikhs, for the trial in the sensitive case, a move being seen as made to ensure "neutrality" in view of Hindu-Muslim polarisation over the case. The Supreme Court also initiated an examination of the case - of its own record.The trial is expected to go smoothly after the Jammu Bar Association as well as the Kathua Bar received a rap on the knuckles from the Supreme Court on April 13. The apex court took strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the case saying such impediments "affect the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice".
According to the charge sheets filed by the crime branch, the abduction, rape and killing of the eight-year-old girl who belongs to a minority nomadic community, was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the community from the area. It lists Sanji Ram, the caretaker of 'Devisthan', a small temple in a village in Kathua, as the main conspirator behind the crime.Sanji Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, Ram's nephew, a juvenile, and his son Vishal Jangotra alias "Shamma". The charge sheet also names investigating officers head constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence. All eight are under arrest. The crime branch will also be handing over the notices issued to the Jammu Bar Council as well as Kathua Bar Council for appearing before the Supreme Court on April 19.The Bar Association of Kathua has already retracted from its earlier statement of providing legal assistance free of cost to the accused and said "after going through the charge sheet presented by the crime branch (against the accused in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate on April 9) it is revealed that the allegations against the accused persons are very grave and as such this case is to be dealt with in a professional way. (PTK)