THE EIGHT-YEAR-OLD was gangraped thrice inside the Devasthan or prayer hall, after the mastermind had “performed rituals”. One of the rapists was called from Meerut to “satisfy his lust”. The girl was confined using sedatives, then strangled and hit on the head twice with a stone — “in order to make sure” she was dead. But not before another accused, a police personnel, asked the others to “wait because he wanted to rape” her one last time.
And all this, to “dislodge” a group of Bakherwal Muslim nomads from Rasana village in Kathua near Jammu.
These are just some of the chilling details in the 18-page chargesheet filed Monday by J&K Police’s Crime Branch against the eight accused in the rape and murder of the girl who went missing from near her house in Rasana on January 10 — her body was found seven days later in the forests nearby.
In the days that followed, the chargesheet states, the accused paid Rs 1.5 lakh as a bribe to local policemen who knew where the girl was kept and helped cover up the crime initially.
The killing had sparked outrage across J&K with the government handing over the case to the Crime Branch following protests from the Bakherwal community. The case took a communal turn in Kathua, where an outfit called Hindu Ekta Manch was set up by politicians in support of the accused. Among those who backed the Manch were Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, two BJP ministers in Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Cabinet.
Kathua chargesheet: In J-K child gangrape, rituals, a chilling invite and a police cover-up The storeroom where the victim was allegedly kept, in Kathua near Jammu. (Express Photo: Nirupama Subramanian)
According to the chargesheet, the mastermind behind the rape and murder is retired revenue official Sanji Ram who is among the eight arrested, along with his son Vishal Jangotra and nephew, believed to be a juvenile.
Read | Kathua rape-murder: Chargesheet filed against seven amid protests by lawyers
The Crime Branch had also arrested Special Police Officers (SPOs) Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar, a Rasana resident Parvesh Kumar, Assistant Sub Inspector Anand Dutta and Head Constable Tilak Raj in the case. Dutta and Raj were arrested on charges of attempting to destroy evidence.
According to the chargesheet, the girl’s father Mohd Yousuf lodged a complaint on January 12 at the Hiranagar station that his daughter who “had gone for grazing horses in the nearby forest at about 1230 hrs on January 10” had not returned. A FIR was lodged and police arrested Ram’s nephew, leading to allegations of a cover-up by the Bakherwal community. On January 22, the case was transferred to the Crime Branch.
The chargesheet states that Ram masterminded the conspiracy to kidnap and, later rape and kill the girl. It states that he made SPO Khajuria and the juvenile a “part of the conspiracy and assigned them tasks separately and individually”.
Read | Kathua girl was raped, killed to force nomads out, finds probe
“…Deepak along with his friend Vikram went to Bitu Medical shop at Kottah Morh on January 7 evening and purchased one strip of Epitril 0.5 mg containing 10 tablets by showing the prescription of his uncle, who has a psychiatric problem and is under treatment. Although the medicine as per the prescription was not available with Bitu, he gave him Epitril 0.05 mg instead of the medicine written on the prescription,’’ the chargesheet states.
On the same day, it says, Ram asked his nephew to “kidnap” the girl who “often comes to the forests behind their house for grazing her horses”. Subsequently, the juvenile “shared the entire plan” worked out by Ram and Khajuria with “Parvesh Kumar@Mannu, his close friend, and asked for his help”.
On January 10, the juvenile saw the girl asking about her horses. He told her that “he had seen her horses and led her to the jungle”. “He also called accused Mannu. Sensing some trouble, the victim tried to flee but the juvenile stopped her by catching hold of her neck and covered her mouth with one of his hands and pushed her and she fell on the ground,” the chargesheet says.
“The victim fell unconscious and was raped by the juvenile (in the jungle). Thereafter, Mannu also attempted to rape her. They took her and kept her inside the Devasthan under the table over two plastic mats and then covered her,” it says.
On the next day, the chargesheet says, the “parents of the girl reached the Devasthan and enquired from… Ram about the whereabouts of her missing daughter who told them that she may have gone to some relative’s house”.
The prayer hall where the girl had been confined was kept locked by Ram. On the same day, according to the chargesheet, “Khajuria and the juvenile opened the Devasthan and again sedated the girl by pushing sedatives into her mouth and forced her to drink water subsequently”.
“On January 11, the juvenile informed another accused Vishal Jangotra about the kidnapping of the girl telephonically and asked him to return from Meerut in case he wanted to satisfy his lust,’’ the chargesheet says.
On January 12, it says, Jangotra reached Rasana at 6 am. “At around 8.30 am, the juvenile again went to the Devasthan and administered 3 sedative tablets to the girl while she was unconscious with empty stomach,’’ the chargesheet says.
By now, it says, a police party from the Hiranagar station, including Khajuria, had started searching for the girl. “Khajuria…came to the house of accused Sanji Ram with another police official namely Iftikar Wani… Khajuria advised the juvenile to ensure administering of sedatives to the victim in time,’’ the chargesheet says.
“During investigation it transpired that the accused Ram had already taken the accused police officials into confidence and settled the deal with them,” it says.
The chargesheet says that Head Constable Raj, who was part of the search party, had asked Ram to bribe the police team. On January 12, Ram sent Rs 1.5 lakh to Raj through the juvenile’s mother, it says.
On January 13, the chargesheet says, “…accused Vishal Jangotra, the juvenile and accused Ram went to the Devasthan where Ram performed rituals”. Later, it says, Jangotra “raped the nomad girl. Thereafter, the juvenile also raped the girl”.
After keeping the girl in the prayer hall for days, the chargesheet says, Ram told the other accused that it was time to kill her and “dump her (body) in the forest”.
“…the accused Mannu, Vishal and juvenile took the victim from the Devasthan to a nearby culvert… accused Khajuria told the juvenile to wait as he wanted to rape the girl before she is killed,’’ the chargesheet says.
Describing the murder, the chargesheet states: “After committing the barbaric act of rape on the minor victim, the accused Khajuria kept her neck on his left thigh and started applying force with his hands on her neck in order to kill her… Khajuria was unsuccessful in killing her, the juvenile killed her by pressing his knees against her back while strangulating the girl by applying force on both the ends of her chunni. Thereafter, the accused, in order to make sure that the victim is dead, hit her twice on head with a stone.’’
The body was dumped inside the prayer hall as the accused couldn’t find a vehicle to transport it. On January 15, the chargsheet says, Ram “directed” the other accused to “throw the body in the jungle’’. (Indian Express)