Kathua rape
participate in a candlelight vigil as they protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua near JammuReuters

A Jammu court ordered the state police to file a First Information Report (FIR) against six members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) responsible for probing the Kathua gang rape and murder case for custodial torturing of the witnesses to give false statements. Four months ago, six people were convicted for rape and murder of an eight-year-old Gujjar Bakarwal girl in Kathua village in 2018.

On Tuesday, the Court of Judicial Magistrate (CJM) circulated an order directing Jammu and Kashmir police to file a case against six members of SIT who were responsible for probing Kathua gang rape and murder case. The identified policemen are Urfan Wani (sub-inspector crime branch Jammu), Kewal Kishore (crime branch), Peerzada Naveed (Additional Superintendent of Police Crime Branch Jammu), Nassir Hussain (Deputy SP Crime Branch Jammu), Shwetambari Sharma (Deputy SP Crime Branch, Jammu), RK Jalla (Former SSP Crime Branch Jammu). 

The two-page Jammu court order directing SSP Jammu to the registration of FIR, "The applicants were coerced/ tortured/forced by applicants(SIT) to give false evidence against the accused Vishal Jangotra." The next date of hearing is scheduled on November 11 for reporting compliance.

The court order read, "Considered the argument of counsel for the applicant and order of the Supreme Court and the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. As per the affidavit of the counsel for applicant no proceedings are pending for disposal in the apex court with regard to the case in question."

  • Kathua Case
    Kathua Jammu Court Order (Image: Twitter)
  • Kathua case 2

"From the gist of the complaint cognizable offences are made out against the non-applicants herein. Therefore, application of the applicant under section 153 (3) CrPC is allowed with the direction to SSP Jammu to register FIR against the non-applicants under relevant provisions of law and report compliance by the next date of hearing on November 11," it said.

Defence lawyer Ankur Sharma said the court directed the Jammu Superintendent of police to lodge an FIR against all the six members of SIT for manufacturing of false evidence, criminal intimidation and illegal confinement, among other serious offences.  He further added, "it can affect appeal after our allegations are established in the investigation."

Kathua rape case verdict
Security beefed up outside Pathankot court over Kathua rape case verdicttwitter

The J&K Police, who were taken aback by the order, will attempt to file an appeal or even approach the high court for the same.

The Kathua case

On June 10, a district and sessions court in Pathankot had sentenced accused — Sanji Ram, Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria — to life imprisonment under the Ranbir Penal Code and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and two special police officers identified as Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma are the accused. Tilak Raj and Anand Dutta have been accused of destroying crucial evidence in the case. 

Vishal Jangotra, son of Sanji Ram was the only one acquitted by giving him the "benefit of doubt," due to lack of evidence. 

Previously, the Supreme court ordered the trial to be shifted to Pathankot in Punjab after the lawyers in Kathua allegedly prevented submission of the charge sheet in court. According to the charge sheet, the girl, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was kidnapped and held captive at a village temple in Kathua district on January 10, 2018. The 15-page charge sheet against the accused said that the eight-year-old girl was starved, sedated and repeatedly raped in captivity over the next four days before being bludgeoned to death.

protests against Kathua rape
Participate in a candle light vigil as they protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua near JammuReuters

Her mutilated body was found in a forest on January 17. Three days later, one of the accused —reportedly a juvenile — was arrested by the police, the charge sheet said. The abduction, rape and killing of the child were part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, it added.

Mehbooba Tweet

The Kathua rape case sparked outrage across the state, forcing the government to hand over the case to the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police. The case constrained relations between the then ruling coalition partners, the PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the latter, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, an outfit that protested against the arrest of the accused. 

Minister for forest Chander Prakash Ganga  who was supporting the rally for the accused said:

I don't understand this investigation. Why they have arrested a 14-year-old, a 22-year-old, a 28-year-old and a 37-year-old. How is this possible?
- Chandra Prakash Ganga