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Kathua rape, murder case: Chief investigator regrets accused Vishal’s release on benefit of doubt

Press Trust of India

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JAMMU: It was like looking for a needle in a haystack till an unusual sweat on Sanji Ram’s face on a chilly January morning hinted he was hiding something, recalls R K Jalla – the chief investigator in the rape and murder case of an 8-year old girl in Kathua.

Sanji Ram, along with two others, were convicted for life on charges of rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua by a sessions court in Pathankot on Monday.

Retired from service barely three months ago, Jalla was handed the case that was given to the crime branch on January 27, 2018. One of the most decorated Jammu and Kashmir police officers, Jalla spoke to PTI, recounting the challenges his team faced.

 

“After having investigated the crime scene, we went to meet Sanji Ram (one of the main accused in the case). As I and my team started enquiring about his family members including his arrested juvenile nephew, I asked about his son Vishal. Sanji Ram immediately conveyed to me in a boastful voice that his son was studying in Meerut and I can go and check from his CDR (Call Data Record). I started wondering about two things — why is he insisting that I should go and check Vishal’s call records and second, why the hell is he sweating on a chilly morning of January,” the 60-year-old Jalla recalled.

The sessions court in Pathankot had on Monday sentenced Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parwesh Kumar to life and the three dismissed policemen – Anand Dutta, Tikal Raj and Surinder Singh – to five years in jail.

Vishal, son of Sanji Ram, was acquitted by the court.

Jalla’s only regret in the case was Vishal’s release on the benefit of doubt. “I can only hope that an appeal is filed challenging the acquittal,” he said.

Jalla said Sanji Ram made every attempt to save his son from this case. “I can only hope that the evidence collected by the crime branch during a painstaking investigation is appreciated by High Court,” he said.

Inspector General (Crime) Ahfadul Mujtaba had already said on Monday that they would file an appeal against the acquittal of Vishal.

The case had assumed political dimensions with at least two former BJP leaders Lal Singh and Ganga Singh joining a protest march on March last year during which demand for the release of Sanji Ram and others was made.

The case saw straining of ties between PDP and BJP alliance government but as investigators in the case, Jalla said he “had received not a single call from any of the BJP leaders”.

“There was no political pressure whatsoever on me or my team and we were doing our job with complete dedication and honesty,” he added.

Jalla was part of the first batch of police officers that joined Special operations group – an anti-militancy crack forces formed in the early 1990s.

He retired on March 31 this year as Senior Superintendent of Police (crime branch).

The officer’s role was appreciated by the prosecution team comprising S S Basra, J K Chopra, Bhupinder Singh and Harminder Singh, who said Jalla had laid a strong foundation for the case that ensured defence witnesses were on the back foot.

J K Chopra, who led the prosecution team along with Basra, said Jalla’s dedication saw many of defence witnesses backtrack after evidence, be it technical or physical, were produced in the court.

However, Jalla said it was never a one-man-show. “It is absolutely a wonderful team work where prosecution and investigators were always on the same page. It may be for the first time that the prosecution has not sought a single adjournment in the case,” he said.

The officer, with a smile, also added that this case made him revisit all that had been taught to him during training at the police academy.


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ACB launches Call, Whatsapp helpline

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J&K Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has launched call & WhatsApp helpline number 9419678060 on which the citizens can report demands for bribe/ corruption through social messenger and also through call.

The motive of the ACB behind the announcing a WhatsApp and call helpline is to encourage citizens to report cases of corruption and bribe demands.

While launching the WhatsApp and call the helpline of Anti Corruption Bureau in Srinagar, Anand Jain, IPS, Director, Anti-Corruption Bureau said that WhatsApp has become a very popular medium of communication and people are more comfortable using WhatsApp.

 

Moreover, WhatsApp will also enable the complainant to post picture and videos of any complaints through an electronic medium in real time basis.

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Leopard strays from forest in Kishtwar, captured by wildlife dept

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Jammu, Jun 25: A leopard strayed from a forest to a road in Jammu and Kashmir”s Kishtwar district following which it was captured by the Wildlife Department, officials said.

A video went viral on social media Monday, showing the big cat walking along a road in Chingam village of Chatroo surrounded by a lush, green forest. Some men can be seen walking close behind it while capturing the unusual sight on their mobile phones.

The leopard is seen moving peacefully, unmindful of the presence of humans, and even walks past some cars whose occupants observe the animal from close quarters.

 

A department officials said the leopard was captured two days ago and it is presently under observation.

“The animal is sick and is undergoing treatment at trauma centre in Kishtwar. It is under observation and is showing signs of recovery,” the official.

District Development Commissioner (Kishtwar) A S Rana appealed people to exercise caution in such a situation in order to ensure their safety as well as the safety of the wild animals.

Some netizens blamed deforestation and encroachment of animal habitat as reasons for the incident.

“This is outcome of deforestation…obviously they will come in our homes since we (have) destroyed theirs,” a Facebook user said in response to the video.

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Two lakh Indian pilgrims to perform Haj this year, 48 per cent of them women: Naqvi

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New Delhi: A record 2 lakh Indian pilgrims will perform Haj this year with more than 48 per cent of them being women, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Tuesday. More than 2,340 women will perform Haj without “Mehram” (male companion) this year, the Union minister said adding last year, this number stood at 1,180.

Arrangements have made to send these women without the lottery system, he said.

In a first, all applicants from several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, will perform Haj as “their waiting lists have been cleared due to increase in Haj quota”, the minister said.

 

“For the first time since Independence, a record number of 2 lakh Indian Muslims will go to Haj this year without any subsidy, on more than 500 flights and from 21 embarkation points across the country,” Naqvi said adding 48 per cent of them are women.

“While 1.40 lakh pilgrims will go through the Haj Committee of India, 60,000 will go through Haj Group Organisers,” he said.

A total of 19 health centres — 16 in Mecca and 3 in Madina — have been established. Besides, three hospitals in Mecca and one in Madina have been established to ensure proper health facilities to Haj pilgrims, he said.

In the two-day training programme, Haj deputationists will be given all the information about Haj pilgrimage, accommodation in Makkah and Madina, transport, health facilities, safety measures among others.

Flights for Haj will depart from Delhi, Gaya, Guwahati and Srinagar on July 4, from Bengaluru and Calicut on July 7, Goa on July 13, Cochin on July 14, Mangalore on July 17, Mumbai on July 14 and 21 and Srinagar on July 21.

In the second phase, flights will depart from Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Lucknow on July 20, Bhopal and Ranchi on July 21, Aurangabad on July 22, Kolkata and Nagpur on July 25, Hyderabad on July 26, Varanasi on July 29 and Chennai on July 31.

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