Jammu & Kashmir

Kathua rape and murder case: Family expresses anguish as 2 convicts walk out on bail

Kathua: The family members of an eight-year-old, who was brutally raped and murdered in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, are anguished that while their appeal for enhancement of sentence against six people remains unheard, two convicts were released on bail in the case described by a court as a “devilish and monstrous crime”.

Quoting her family members, a report by news agency PTI said that they are shocked to hear that culprits— former sub-inspector Anand Dutta and Head Constable Tilak Raj— have been released on bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which suspended the rest of their sentences pending an appeal.

“I am surprised that two accused have been left on bail. Our appeal for enhancement of sentence is still pending while their appeal has been addressed. I wonder whether poor people like us will ever be heard, the report quoted the victim’s biological father Mohammed Akthar as saying.

He added, “I hope the Supreme Court looks into the matter and takes some action as no one is hearing our petition.”

The report quoting Yusuf said that efforts were being made to dilute the case to the extent that all the culprits were out.

“When the accused are out on bail, I fear that one day, I will be booked under some frivolous charge and thrown into jail. They are very powerful people,” the report quoted Yusuf as saying.

“Already rumours have started doing the rounds that the case was going to be re-investigated by the CBI and all the accused will be out on bail,” he alleged.

The case triggered a worldwide outrage when the eight-year-old was found murdered on January 17, 2018.

After initial hiccups, the case was handed over to the crime branch on January 27 of the same year which unravelled the conspiracy behind the heinous crime where the minor was kidnapped and brutally raped for four days before being killed in a barbaric manner.

The Supreme Court, had in 2018, directed the case to be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir and ordered the sessions court in Pathankot to hear it on a daily basis.

Sanji Ram, the mastermind and caretaker of the ‘devasthanam’ (temple) where the crime took place in January 2018, Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer, and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian, were sentenced to life imprisonment till their last breath for the ghastly crime, while three policemen, Dutta, Raj and SPO Suriender Kumar, were awarded five years imprisonment for destroying evidence in June 2019.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, earlier this month, suspended the remaining sentences of Dutta and Raj, pending hearing on their appeals against the verdict.

Justices Tejinder Singh Dhindsa and Vinod S Bhardwaj said in separate orders that both Dutta and Raj have been on parole for 11 months and nine months respectively.

The news agency report added that senior advocate R S Cheema, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, and advocate Manbir Basra had objected to the suspension of the sentence, saying the accused could tamper with evidence and create a law and order situation.

However, in a near-identical order in both the petitions, the division bench ruled out the apprehension of Cheema about the possibility of a breach of peace, saying it “seems misconceived in as much as the applicant has availed of parole” during the period of his custody.


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