Kathua rape case - Pathankot court holds 6 guilty, one acquitted

Kathua rape case - Pathankot court holds 6 guilty, one acquitted

"The heinous nature of crime had made it a fit case for handing out capital punishment to the guilty and we hoped that the decision would be further reviewed by higher courts", the KCCI said.

The girl's adopted father - the brother of the child's biological mother - said life imprisonment to the accused was not enough and exemplary punishment should be given to them.

Village head and prime accused Sanji Ram, two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Head constable Tilak Raj, Anand Verma and Parvesh Kumar have been held guilty by the special court.

The case shocked India, which has an appalling record for violence against women and girls, and led to the introduction of the death penalty for rapists of girls below the age of 12.

Public outcry had followed the abduction, rape and murder of the minor girl in Rasana village of Kathua district on January 10 past year.

Over 1,000 security personnel have reportedly been deployed at various points in the state, in case of an agitation following this verdict.

The girl, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic community (the Bakarwals), had been sedated and raped repeatedly for four days, and later strangled and bludgeoned to make sure she was dead.

News agency ANI reported that the Court accepted Vishal's plea of alibi that he was taking an exam in Uttar Pradesh on the day of the incident and acquitted him while convicting the other six.

The prosecution was represented by Special Public Prosecutor SS Bhasra and Public Prosecutor JC Chopra, among others.

No media were allowed into the courtroom for the verdict, and Asifa's immediate family members were not in attendance. One local police officer, also involved in the crime, had requested his accomplices to let him rape the 8-year-old child for one last time before killing her. However, the volatile circumstances surrounding the case eventually prompted the Supreme Court to transfer the trial outside Jammu & Kashmir to the District and Sessions Court of Pathankot, Punjab.

The court also framed charges of destruction of evidence and causing hurt by poisoning under Section 328 of the RPC.

One of them - the son of one of those convicted - has been acquitted.

She said the family could not afford to travel to Pathankot to hear the verdict because selling livestock was their only source of income.

Investigators said the attack was planned, in an effort to create fear among the Muslim tribe and force them to leave the village.

The case had constrained relations between the then ruling coalition partners, PDP and the BJP after two ministers of BJP, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused arrested by the state crime branch.

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