'Chargesheet in Kathua rape and murder case to be filed next week'
Jammu: The crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir police is likely to submit the charge sheet before the high court in the rape and murder case of a minor girl in Kathua district next week, a senior police officer said on Sunday.
The incident had sparked an outrage across the state.
"The over two-and-a-half-month long investigation is almost complete and we are likely to file the charge sheet in the court, which is monitoring the case, next week," the officer said.
Body of eight-year-old girl from the Bakherwal community was recovered from Rassana forest on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.
On January 23, the government handed over the case to the crime branch of state police which formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and arrested eight persons, including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable, in connection with the case. The head constable was charged with destruction of evidence.
Among the accused, former revenue official and the alleged conspirator Sanji Ram (60) surrendered before the crime branch on March 20 after his son Vishal was arrested from Uttar Pradesh.
The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to divulge the exact date for filing of the charge sheet but said the probe was in its concluding phase after the crime branch received the forensic test reports which confirmed that the eight-year-old girl was held hostage at a temple premises, drugged and raped several times before being murdered.
Though the incident sent shock waves across the state, several parties including Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHCBA) and National Panthers Party (NPP) supported the demand for a CBI probe which, however, was turned down by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The JHCBA is on strike since Thursday in support of various demands including handing over the Kathua rape-cum-murder case to CBI, a demand which was also highlighted by women relatives of the accused who are on an indefinite hunger strike since March 31.
The BJP, which is sharing power with the PDP in the state, yesterday said it supports the issues like deportation of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi immigrants raised by the JHCBA, but will not like to support them for the Rassana (rape-cum-murder) issue since it was subjudice.
Soon after the incident, the residents of Kathua formed the Hindu Ekta Manch and marched through the streets with tricolour to press for release of the arrested persons but later changed their demand for CBI inquiry after severe criticism from different quarters, including the chief minister.