In a region mired in conflict, it takes all the more courage, and perseverance to be the voice of the voiceless, and to separate facts from propaganda. Help The Kashmir Monitor sustain so that we continue to be editorially independent. Remember, your contributions, however small they may be, matter to us.

Kathua rape-murder: Cop, SPO arrested by SIT move HC

People hold placards at a protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl, in Kathua, near Jammu and a teenager in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh state, in New Delhi, India April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Jammu, Apr 24: A policeman and an SPO arrested in connection with the Kathua rape and murder case have moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking a fresh CBI probe into the matter and quashing of the investigation by the state crime branch.
Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta and Special Police Officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria were arrested for allegedly destroying evidence related to the rape and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district.
A petition was filed in the high court on Monday by their counsel Veenu Gupta.
The petitioners pleaded that the crime branch probe be quashed as it had been shifted on three occasions from the local police to it, and finally to a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
It is strange that a policeman, who was involved in a rape and murder case a few years ago and evaded arrest for three years despite being an officer, was a member of the SIT, the petition said.
The officer’s subsequent acquittal in a trial court for lack of evidence is a matter of record, it said.
Despite the sensitivity of the case, he is a member of the probe panel, the petitioners said, while pleading for a fresh CBI probe in the case.
The petition said there were “huge differences” in the post-mortem and forensic reports and stated that the crime branch probe was “incorrect”.
The petitioners also objected to the crime branch findings that the girl was kept at a Devasthan and alleged that the SIT had tampered and planted evidence.
They alleged that the main aim of the probe was to facilitate encroachment of government land by tribal people.
The body of the girl was recovered from a forest in Kathua on January 17, a week after she went missing.
On January 23, the government had handed over the case to the crime branch that formed the SIT and arrested eight people, including the sub-inspector and the SPO, who were charged with destruction of evidence.
Jammu has been tense since the incident and the Bar association has opposed the arrests alleging “targeting of minority Dogras”.
The trial in the matter began on Monday last.