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Kathua case: Court ignored 3 eyewitnesses claiming Vishal was in Rasana

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jun 16: The only acquittal in the Kathua rape-and-murder case came as the trial court set aside the statement of three prosecution witnesses who had claimed that Vishal Jangotra, the son of main culprit Sanji Ram, was in Rasana at the time of the crime.

District and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh relied on the statement of the landlady of Vishal that he was in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh where he was studying in a college.

According to the 432-page judgment delivered on June 10, the prosecution counsel relied on the three eyewitnesses who had claimed to have seen Vishal in Kathua on January 13 and 14 last year and forensic experts’ opinion that writing samples of Vishal did not tally.

 

“The prosecution claims that as per the said report (handwriting), the questioned signatures do not tally with the standard items in general writing habits such as movement, skill and speed.

The differences observed in writing are fundamental in nature,” according to the verdict.

Vishal had presented his signature in the attendance sheet of his college to show that he was in Meerut, and not in Jammu and Kashmir as claimed by the prosecution.

The prosecution also submitted evidence of mobile operators to prove the fact that Vishal was very much present in Kathua on days when the crime against the eight-year-old nomadic girl were committed in Kathua.

While analysing the eyewitnesses of the prosecution, the court said it is of the opinion that these witnesses “are under some mistake relating to identity”.

Commenting on an eyewitness, who had seen a TV report about absence of Vishal from Kathua and came running to crime branch officials where he claimed to have seen Vishal along with Parvesh, an accused sentenced to life.

The eyewitness, who belongs to a nomadic tribe, identified Vishal and Parvesh in the court but the judge did not rely on his statement saying that he “never moved any complaint before any authority against the news channel” or its staff.

“…As such oral evidence of these witnesses cannot be given preference over the documentary evidence on record having been led by defence of Vishal Jangotra.”     

Vishal was the only one among the seven accused to be acquitted by the court.

Three, including his father Sanji Ram who was the key conspirator, were given life sentences. Others were Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria. Three policemen have been sentenced to five years’ jail for destruction of evidence.

Parvesh Kumar, who has been convicted, had said in his confessional statement that Vishal was present with him during the crime. The crime branch has been maintaining that Vishal had come to his village on January 13 and left again on January 14.

The court took into account a statement from Suman Sharma, the landlady of Vishal, who had said that he was present all along in Meerut where he is studying and also testified that he had attended his granddaughter’s birthday celebration on January 16 last year.

Pointing out some elementary mistakes in the investigation, the court observed that Sub-inspector Urfan Wani categorically deposed that before arresting Vishal from Uttar Pradesh’s Meeranpur, they had not enquired from his college or his examination centre whether he had regularly appeared for his examination that started from January 9, 2018.

Wani in his deposition also stated that he had recorded the statement of Vishal’s landlady, Suman Sharma, in Urdu “… And he does not know whether Suman Sharma knew Urdu language or not,” it observed.

In Jammu and Kashmir, Urdu is an official language used by the police to record statements of the accused as well as witnesses.

The court also raised the issue of the prosecution failing to question Inspector Kewal Kishore who had done most of the investigation regarding Vishal’s alleged role in the crime.

“This court is of the opinion that all this goes to show there is a big lacuna in the prosecution case against Vishal Jangotra in this regard as prosecution failed to verify genuinely the plea of alibi raised by accused Vishal Jangotra at the first instance during the investigation of the case,” it said in the detailed order.

The special court said the prosecution has failed to discharge its burden of leading convincing evidence to the effect that the evidence led by Vishal on his ‘plea of alibi’ is wrong or forged and fabricated.

A 15-page charge sheet filed in April last year said the eight-year-old girl was kidnapped on January 10 that year and was raped in captivity in a small village temple, exclusively manned by Ram, after keeping her sedated for four days. She was later bludgeoned to death, it said.

The day-to-day trial commenced in the first week of June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in the neighbouring state of Punjab, about 100 km from Jammu and 30 km from Kathua, after the Supreme Court ordered on May 7, 2018 that the case be shifted out of J and K. The apex court order came after lawyers in Kathua prevented Crime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the sensational case.


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Police seeks adjournment of Kathua rape, murder trial, says ‘accused being major or minor still undecided’

Press Trust of India

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Jammu, Jul 15: Jammu and Kashmir police’s crime branch Monday moved a plea before a juvenile justice board hearing the case of an accused in the gangrape and murder of a young girl in Kathua, seeking deferment of the trial as the state high court is yet to decide whether he is a minor or not.
Appearing before the board, the special public prosecutor of the crime branch submitted that the high court is yet to pronounce its decision on an application moved against the decision of a Kathua court which accepted the accused’s claim that he is a minor, officials said.
The board, after framing charges against the accused who played a key role in kidnapping, rape and murder of the eight-year-old nomadic girl, had fixed Monday for examining prosecution witnesses and commencing of trial.
The board, after examining the plea of the crime branch, however, made it clear that there was no stay by the high court on holding the trial and gave prosecution two weeks to produce evidence and its witnesses in the case.
The crime branch had filed a petition in the high court against the accused’s claim of being a juvenile and said that the then chief judicial magistrate in Kathua had erred in accepting it.
The crime branch had also annexed a report of the medical board of Government Medical College, Jammu, which said the accused was “not less than 19 and not more than 21” years of age
However, the case has seen repeated adjournments last year.
The juvenile justice board had framed charges on July 8 following which it issued a notice to the crime branch, asking them to bring in their prosecution evidence and witnesses for the trial.
According to the notice, “the next date of hearing has been fixed on July 15”.
“The case has been fixed for prosecution evidence… Kindly arrange the presence of public prosecutor appointed in the case so as to examine the prosecution evidence/ witnesses,” it said.
The trial in this case was shifted to the Pathankot Sessions Court on the directions of the Supreme Court last year.
The Pathankot Sessions Court had on June 10 this year sentenced Sanji Ram, dismissed special police officer Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar to life imprisonment, while sacked policemen Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj and Surender Verma were handed five years in jail.
The verdict came 17 months after the girl was brutally gang-raped inside a ‘devisathan’ (local temple) and later killed. She was kidnapped on January 10 and her body was found on January 17.

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Four arrested for thrashing teachers, students in Budgam

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Jul 15: Under pressure, Jammu and Kashmir police have arrested four people involved in the attack on school picnickers at Raiyar village in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Saturday evening.
Six people including two girls and a teacher were injured when a group of youth armed with rods and canes attacked school picnickers at Raiyar village. The incident occurred on Saturday evening when the students and teachers of Hanfiya Model Higher Secondary School (HMHSS), Kreeri in Baramulla district, were returning from Doodpathri after a daylong picnic.
Police swung into action immediately and registered a case of attempt to murder under section 307 Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) against the unknown attackers.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Budgam, Amod Nagpuri told The Kashmir Monitor that four persons have been arrested and further investigation was going on.
“Yes, four persons have been arrested from Raiyar, where the incident took place. They have been booked under section 307 RPC,” Nagpuri said.
Jehangir Ahmad, a teacher at HMHSS, said photographs of eight people were sent (by police) to school authorities for identification.
“After going through the photographs, we identified four persons,” he said.
Ahmad said the injured physical teacher continues to be under observation in Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS).
“Patient was referred from SDH Khan Sahib as a case of assault with head injury. NCCT head showing parietooccipital EDH with parietotemporal contusions,”read the SKIMS report issued on Sunday.
Police sources said that during investigation statements of the injured were also recorded and on that basis four attackers were later arrested

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470 militant attacks took place in 2017, 2018: Goel tells RS

Agencies

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New Delhi, Jul 15: As many as 470 militant attacks took place in the country in 2017 and 2018, the government informed Rajya Sabha on Monday.
In a written reply to a question by BJP MP Vijay Goel, Minister of State for Defence said in 2017, 131 militant attacks occurred in Jammu and Kashmir, eight in Manipur and one in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh each
In 2018, 318 militant attacks took place in Jammu and Kashmir, eight in Manipur and three in Nagaland.
The minister told the House that 235 militants were killed in various counter-insurgency and counter-infiltration operations in 2017. In 2018, the number of militants killed stood at 265.
The Army lost 85 soldiers in these two years – 42 in 2017 and 43 in 2018.

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