Srinagar, June 10 (KMS): A special Court of Pathankot has convicted six accused in the rape and murder case of an 8-year Muslim girl, Asifa, in Kathua district.

Those convicted by the special court include Sanji Ram, Anand Dutta, Parvesh Kumar, Deepak Khajuria, Surender Verma and Tilak Raj. Sanjhi Ram, a village head, was the mastermind of the gruesome incident, while Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma were Special Police Officers and Tilak Raj was a police head constable. The other accused, Vishal, son of main accused Sanjhi Ram, has been acquitted of the charges.

According to the SP operations of Punjab police for Pathankot, Manoj Thakur, over 300 police personnel were deployed in and around the court complex.

Even as the verdict was pronounced, the nomadic Bakarwal community members including the parents of the murdered 8-year-old were on the way Kashmir with their cattle. “We have to move as per our own schedule. What will we do in court now,” the victim’s father said.

The in-camera trial in the case ended on June 3, following which District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh announced that the verdict would be delivered at 02:00pm on June 10. Elaborate security arrangements were put in place because of the high-profile nature of the case.

According to the charge-sheet, the girl, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was kidnapped and held captive at a village temple in Kathua district on January 10, 2018. She was drugged, starved and repeatedly raped for days. She was finally strangled and her head was crushed with a rock.

The child’s mutilated body was found in a forest area on January 17, 2018.

The investigations of the Crime Branch suggested that the girl was raped and murdered in an attempt to strike fear among nomads and drive them out of Kathua area.

The trial was shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir after lawyers at the Kathua court prevented the Crime Branch from filing charges amid high drama on April 9. The prosecution team in the case comprises JK Chopra, SS Basra and Harminder Singh.

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