'Kathua rape-and-murder was a plan to drive nomads out'
Jammu: The rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district was a plan aimed at driving out the Bakharwal nomads from here, an official said on Sunday.
Moreover, an accused in the rape-and-murder case, who was earlier said to be a juvenile, is over 19 years old, the official said, quoting medical reports.
He said Asifa, belonging to the Bakharwal community -- a mostly Muslim tribe -- was drugged and raped before she was murdered. The youth, along with one of his relatives and a special police officer (SPO), turned out to be the main conspirators in the crime.
"The investigation revealed that it was a pre-planned murder carried out with the intention to instill fear among the Bakharwal nomads residing in the area and drive them out," he said. The youth's medical examination was done at a government medical college here last week by the special investigation team (SIT) of the crime branch, which is probing the case. The SIT had submitted the status report in the high court on Friday.
A medical board, comprising senior doctors, examined the accused and were of the view that he was not a juvenile, as was believed earlier, but over 19 years old, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The board gave its report after conducting physical, dental and radiological examination of the accused, he added.
"We have submitted a detailed status report to the high court, which is monitoring the case," Syed Afadul Mujtaba, inspector-general of police (crime), said, refusing to share further details.
"I will neither confirm nor deny anything because the case is sub-judice," Mujtaba said.
Asifa's body was recovered from Rassana forest on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the area, sparking widespread outrage in the state.
The police arrested the youth and claimed that he had strangulated the victim after she resisted his rape attempt.
After the case was handed over to the state crime branch, an SIT was formed, which arrested four more people, including two SPOs and a head constable, who was charged with destruction of evidence.
The case has divided the ruling coalition partners, PDP and BJP, over the demand of handing over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had on Thursday rejected the demand of the BJP for a CBI probe, saying the investigation was almost complete.
Last month, some residents of Rassana village migrated to Hiranagar as a mark of protest against the government, alleging harassment and mass detentions by the crime branch.