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Kathua rape-murder: Defence seeks stay till accused juvenile’s age is confirmed

Jammu, Jun 14: The defence counsels on Wednesday sought stay in the hearing in connection with the Kathua gangrape and murder case till the confirmation about the age of one of the accused, Parvesh Kumar, who has claimed to be a juvenile.
The defence counsels were challenged by the special public prosecutors after which district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh instructed the Kathua senior superintendent of police (SSP crime branch) to get medical examination of the accused done at the Jammu Medical College to confirm his age.
The cross-examination of prosecution witness, head constable Sham Lal, was done by the defence counsels.
On Thursday, another prosecution witness, photographer Ankush Sharma, will be asked to testify. Sharma, an employee of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, is posted at the Hiranagar police station and was among the first to reach the forest area where the girl’s body was found.
The judge summoned the Kathua jail superintendent to appear in the court at 11am to help it find a way out to ensure meeting of the accused with their relatives. The judge passed the order in response to an application moved by the lawyers of the family of one of the accused, Tilak Raj. “We moved an application yesterday on behalf of my client’s family as they are unable to meet him due to daily trial in the case. Consensus could not be formed and the court asked the Kathua jail superintendent to appear in person to find a way out,” defence lawyer Aseem Sawhney said.
He said since the accused are moved from Kathua jail to the court on a daily basis and have to leave at around 9am, their families are unable to meet them.
The trial in the case began on May 31 with the seven of the eight accused being produced here after the Supreme Court transferred the case from Jammu and Kashmir for a fair trial following a plea by the victim’s family.
The apex court had directed day-to-day in-camera trial in the case. An eight-year-old nomadic girl was gang-raped and murdered in Kathua in January.