Kathua rape and murder case: How Jammu and Kashmir Police built their case against 8 accused ahead of trial

Editor's note: This piece contains graphic details. Reader's discretion advised.

Jammu: What is the scientific evidence against the eight accused held in the brutal Kathua rape and murder case which has shook the entire country? Thousands have held protest march and held candlelight vigils in different parts of India while students in the Kashmir Valley have clashed with security forces to demand swift justice for the eight-year-old Bakarwal girl.

The crime branch of the Jammu and Kashmir police has gathered four types of evidence against the accused which will be presented during the trial of the case, which began last week in Kathua.

1) Corroborative Evidence: This is based on the statements made by the eight accused before the investigators and it has been confirmed through the sequence of events that led to the horrifying tragedy during which the eight-year-old girl was abducted, starved, drugged, gang-raped and finally murdered. According to the police, the accused have confirmed their involvement in the crime.

2) Technical Evidence: The technical evidence against the accused includes their location when the crime took place. The evidence is based on identifying their location using their mobile phones, calls made by the accused to each other during the time the girl was abducted and murdered, the trial of money that was allegedly paid by Sanji Ram, the main conspirator, to bribe the police officials into destroying the evidence and other evidences. This will be presented by an expert before the court.

"The Call Detail Records have established that the individual and common locations of all the accused in and around the scene of crime on crucial dates of occurrence. The CDR revealed that Deepak was in constant touch with Surinder Kumar, also SPO in Police Station Hiranagar from the date of kidnapping of the victim," a crime branch officer told Firstpost.

3) Material Evidence: This is the evidence recovered from the site of the crime in the form of clothes of the victim, mobile phones of the accused, their bank details, blood-stained wooden sticks and other recoveries made by expert investigators while the crime branch was investigating the case. The police has also sealed the temple where the heinous crime took place. Some material evidence has also been recovered from the houses of the culprits to make it a watertight case.

Protests against Kathua rape case. PTI

Protests against Kathua rape case. PTI

4) Medical Tests: A medical board in Kathua, according to Crime Branch officials, has confirmed that the girl was gang-raped before she was killed. Initially, the first medical report prepared by a local doctor had said that there were no injuries but they had found sperms on her. A board of doctors at Kathua hospital later revealed it was a gang-rape, according to sources. Later, the investigations found that the victim was raped by "more than one accused." According to the report, the victim was not given food and was injected with sedatives and her cause of death was by asphyxiation which led to cardio-pulmonary arrest.

The postmortem of the girl was carried out on 17 January, 2018 by a team of doctors at District Hospital Kathua who also confirmed that she was first raped and then murdered.

One of the accused Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, according to police, did not collect even the blood sample of the victim from the board of doctors who conducted autopsy of victim at District Hospital Kathua. He was initially leading investigation in the case.

"The forensic lab people told us there was nothing on the dress of the victim. There was absolutely nothing. And there were photographs taken when the dead body was found on spot. It had mud on it. But in Forensic Science Laboratory the same dress was found clean as if it was dry-cleaned," Inspector General, Crime Branch, Syed Afhad-ul-Mujtaba, told Firstpost.

"The evidence was sent from Jammu to Delhi for forensic tests later due to the absence of advanced forensic technology in Jammu and Kashmir to a Forensic Science Laboratory, run by the home department of the Delhi government," he added.

The potency test of the juvenile, Vishal Jasgotra and Pravesh Kumar, was conducted by a medical officer and the report came out positive, conforming the duo were capable of performing sexual intercourse. The medical experts also sought the re-examination of Deepak Khajuria, the SPO, for the potency test, which is likely to be done after getting court permission. "The medical tests were initially done in Kathua during the course of investigation initially," IGP of the Crime Branch said.

The investigating agency also recovered various items including strands of hair from the temple and the nearby forest where the body was dumped by the accused. They were sent to New Delhi for DNA profiling. The FSL reports confirm one of the hair stands recovered from Devisthan matched with the DNA profile of the eight-year-old, indicating that the victim was kept in captivity at Devisthan.

"In the course of investigation, the SIT members along with FSL experts again visited the scene of occurrence and tried to reconstruct the scene of crime. The minute examination of these locations led to the recovery of various items including, blood-stained wooden sticks and hair strand (which were seized) packed and sealed/resealed by Executive Magistrate. The sealed packets containing the exhibits collected in the course of investigation were sent to FSL for analysis and report... which confirmed that the victim was kept in captivity at Devisthan which is exclusively manned by accused Sanji Ram to the exclusion of any other person of the area," the chargesheet submitted by the Crime Branch noted.

Similarly, the FSL report of hair strands recovered matched with the DNA profile of the juvenile.

Interestingly, while the FSL Srinagar claimed that they could not frame any report on the samples as Anand Dutta and Tilak Raj had "destroyed the evidence" by washing the clothes of the victim, FSL Delhi confirmed presence of blood stains on the salwar-kameez of the victim which matched the DNA profile of the victim. "DNA profiling also established presence of victim’s blood on the vaginal smears," it said.

A crime branch officer said the postmortem report of the victim confirmed that hymen of the deceased "was not found intact", "lacerations on vulva of the vagina were also observed," besides “blood stained discharge was found inside vagina of the deceased". "In this case all types of evidence were collected, debated and thoroughly examined. We have tried to not leave any stone unturned before zeroing on a suspect. That is the reason Sanji Ram was arrested so late. All evidence suggested his involvement from day one," the officer told Firstpost.

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Updated Date: Apr 21, 2018 12:03:40 IST

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