Pathankot, Jun 9: The verdict in the case of rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir will be delivered by a special court here on Monday. The in-camera trial in the case that shook the nation ended on June 3, when district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh had announced that the verdict was likely to be delivered on June 10.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the court and in Kathua in view of the pronouncement of the judgment, officials said on June 9.
The situation will be monitored closely, they said.
According to the 15-page charge sheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.
The day-to-day trial commenced in the first week of June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in neighbouring state of Punjab, about 100 km from Jammu and 30 km from Kathua, after the Supreme Court ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.
The apex court order came after lawyers in Kathua prevented Crime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the sensational case, which shocked the nation.
The prosecution team in the case comprised J K Chopra, S S Basra and Harminder Singh.
The Crime Branch arrested village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, juvenile nephew and his friend Anand Dutta, and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence, were also arrested.
Charges of rape and murder were framed by the district and sessions judge against seven out of the eight accused. The trial against the juvenile is yet to begin as his petition on determining his age is to be heard by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
The court framed charges under the Ranbir Penal Code(RPC), including Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376-D (gang-rape), according to the prosecution.
The accused, if convicted, face minimum life imprisonment and maximum death penalty.
The court also framed charges of destruction of evidence and causing hurt by poisoning under Section 328 of the RPC. The two policemen – Raj and Datta – were also charged under Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC.
All the accused, barring the juvenile, were shifted to Gurdaspur jail following an intervention by the Supreme Court which also restricted appearance of the defence lawyers and limited it to one or maximum of two per accused.
The charge sheet said the girl had gone missing while grazing horses. Investigators said the accused juvenile had abducted the girl under the pretext of helping her find her horses.
The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, it said.
Verdict in Kathua rape-and-murder case todayThe case had become a bone of contention between the then ruling alliance partners PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the saffron party, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused arrested by the state crime branch.
Defunct street lights? Don’t expect SMC to fix them
Srinagar, Jun 17: Srinagar plunges into darkness soon after sunset as most of the street lights in the capital city are defunct.
This being so since Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) claims it is incapable to deal with the issue.
In absence of this basic facility, the city residents face a lot of inconvenience moving out of their homes to the markets or masjids during the evening and early morning hours.
Cases of burglary and dog-bites have been reported from many secluded areas where residents complain of either having defunct or no street lights.
People living in many of these poorly-lit areas feel scared to venture out of their homes in late hours.
“I prefer not to leave my home after Isha namaz. Dogs chase passersby since there is no street light in this colony,” said Bashir Ahmed, 60, a resident of Illahibagh.
SMC claims it has installed more than 40,000 street lights across the city. However, majority of them remain dysfunctional due to lack of an established electric division and less technical manpower in the corporation.
Executive Engineer SMC, Qazi Imtiyaz who looks after the Mechanical division, said: “We have nothing. Zero manpower to look after the technical faults of street lights. There is no electric division in our corporation.”
SMC Commissioner, Khursheed Ahmad Sanai said: “SMC lacks an established electric division as well as skilled staff to mend defunct street lights in Srinagar. But we are constantly making up to illuminate more areas through whatever little staff is available to us.”
RKFC signs top English striker
More signings to follow; Club on track to become India’s football powerhouse
Srinagar, Jun 17: J&K’s premier football club, Real Kashmir FC, has signed an experienced striker from England to play for the team in the upcoming season.
Announcing on RKFC’s official Twitter handle, the club management wrote: “RKFC is delighted to announce the signing of Kallum Higginbotham from Dunfermline Athletic, Scotland. Kallum is an experienced striker who has played at the highest level in the UK. Kallum has played for top teams such as Huddersfield Town, Kilmarnock, and Motherwell.”
Former Kilmarnock frontman, Kallum, who’s originally from Salford, England, will join the club in the third week of July, club sources told The Kashmir Monitor.
With Rangers legend David Robertson training the team, Kallum will be the second European player to play for RKFC after the coach’s son Mason.
The club finished third in the I-League last season in their first campaign in the top flight.
Terming it as an important signing, club’s co-owner, Sandeep Chattoo said: “Today’s signing of Kallum shows our intent that we mean business. We will leave no stone unturned to make RKFC a powerhouse of football not just in India but Asia. In coming days we will unveil more top signings. As a co-owner, I want to tell the fans that we will do whatever we can to play top class breathtaking football next season. RKFC is not just a football team. It’s the heartbeat of the state. For me personally it’s a project. We have just completed phase one. Lot more to follow.”
Head Coach David Robertson had a similar viewpoint on Kallum’s inclusion in the club: “Signing player of Kallum’s experience and quality is a huge statement and shows continued ambition of Real Kashmir. He will give us an extra edge upfront and can also play in various roles within the team. Our team is shaping up nicely and we are all eager and excited for the start of the new campaign.”
President J&K Football Association, Zameer Thakur congratulated the team on the signing.
“We welcome this signing and hope that RKFC will not just maintain but improve its last season’s performance in the upcoming one,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
Overall nuclear arms decline but India, Pak, China expanding arsenal
Stockholm, Jun 17: The overall number of nuclear warheads in the world has declined in the past year but nations are modernising their arsenals, a report published Monday said.
At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons, according to estimates in a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018.
But at the same time all nuclear weapon-possessing countries are modernising these arms ¬– and China, India and Pakistan are also increasing the size of their arsenals.
“The world is seeing fewer but newer weapons,” Shannon Kile, director of the SIPRI Nuclear Arms Control Programme and one of the report’s authors, told AFP.
The drop in recent years can mainly be attributed to the US and Russia, whose combined arsenals still make up more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
This is in part due to the countries fulfilling their obligations under the New START treaty — which puts a cap on the number of deployed warheads and was signed by the US and Russia in 2010 — as well as getting rid of obsolete warheads from the Cold War era.
The START treaty is however due to expire in 2021, which Kile said was worrying since there are currently “no serious discussions underway about extending it”.
Next year the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — considered the cornerstone of the world’s nuclear order — turns 50.
The number of nuclear arms has been drastically reduced since a peak in the mid-1980s when there were some 70,000 nuclear warheads in the world.
While Kile said progress should not be underestimated, he also noted a number of worrying trends, such as the build-up of nuclear arms on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, and the danger of a conventional conflict escalating to a nuclear one.
There is also a more general trend towards an “increased salience” of nuclear weapons, where changing strategic doctrines, particularly in the US, are giving nuclear weapons an expanded role in both military operations and national security dialogue, Kile said.
“I think the trend is moving away from where we were five years ago, where the world’s nuclear weapons were being marginalised,” Kile said.
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently urged nuclear powers to “get serious” about disarmament and warned there was a “very real risk” that decades of work on international arms control could collapse following the US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal, which he said sent the wrong signal to North Korea.
Global disarmament efforts also suffered a blow when the United States announced in February it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, prompting Russia to say it would also suspend its participation.