A special court in Punjab's Pathankot on Monday convicted six of the seven accused in the Kathua rape case. The eighth accused is a juvenile and his case will be separately handled by the Juvenile Justice Board or JJB.
The case involves an eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped, raped and killed by these men in January last year.
According to the police chargesheet, the girl, who belonged to the nomadic community, had gone missing on January 10, 2018, while grazing horses. Investigators said the accused juvenile had abducted the girl under the pretext of helping her find her horses and raped her on the same day. The investigators further said that before being killed, the girl was kept sedated in a temple where Sanjhi Ram, the main accused, was the custodian.
Sanjhi Ram claims he found out about the sexual assault only on January 13 when the nephew confessed to him, according to the investigators. He told them that he had performed prayers at the 'devisthan', and asked his nephew to take prasad home. But the nephew delayed doing so, and in anger Ram beat him up, investigators said.
The juvenile thought his uncle had found out that he had raped the girl, and spilled the beans, they said. They claim the juvenile also implicated his cousin and Ram's son, Vishal, saying they both had raped the girl inside the 'devisthan'. Vishal was today acquitted by the court.
On the intervening night of January 13 and 14, the juvenile, Vishal and a friend, Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, took the victim out of the 'devisthan'. They were later joined by a special police officer Deepak Khajuria who wanted to rape her once more before she was killed, they said.
But things did not go quite as planned, they said.
She was murdered on January 14 as Ram did not want to leave any evidence that led to his son, investigators found.
The body of the child was to be transported and disposed of in the Hiranagar canal nearby. However, a vehicle could not be arranged in time. The other accused then lifted the body and took it back to the 'devisthan' while Ram kept watch outside, the chargesheet said.
Further investigations showed that Ram told his nephew and his son the next day that his friend had refused to bring a car so the two had to throw it in the forest nearby. Her body was found there on January 17.
Preparations for the abduction had started on January 7 when sedatives and 'manar' (local cannabis or bhang) were purchased, the chargesheet said.
Preparations for the abduction had started on January 7 when sedatives were purchased, the police chargesheet said