In the past 30 years, since the Kashmir Valley plunged into political turmoil, there have been very few cases that the Jammu and Kashmir Police have investigated that brought laurels to the force. One of them was the Kathua rape and murder case, for which the state police received appreciation from across the political and social spectrum.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who had ordered the Special Investigation Team to be set up to look into the brutal crime, said: "Several aspersions were cast about a professional (police) force, and they revealed a dangerous mindset. It was, as I have emphasised many times, a brutal rape and murder case, and it had nothing to do with a region or a religion. The police dealt with this case in a professional manner, and they did a great job."
On Monday, a court in Pathankot sentenced three men in the case, including a temple caretaker, to life imprisonment till the last breath, shortly after convicting them, along with three others. One accused — the son of the mastermind Sanji Ram — was acquitted. Three were convicted on charges of rape and murder, and two others, convicted on charges of destroying evidence, were handed a five-year prison term.
“The Jammu and Kashmir police proved how reliable and professional it is when it comes to dealing with such heinous crimes. The police took a firm stand despite heavy odds,” said Javaid Trali, a political activist based in Srinagar.
The conviction of six accused in the case comes after an initial embarrassment for the Jammu and Kashmir Police — two Special Police Officers dealing with the case were tried for rape, and two investigating officers were tried for destroying crucial evidence.
The Kathua rape and murder case had exposed the communal fault lines in the state as many groups in Jammu and Kathua had come out in support of the accused. Two state ministers had also participated in rallies supporting the accused.
Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal lauded the police for securing the convictions —
Congratulations to @JmuKmrPolice for getting Rasana Kathua rapists convicted.
Politicians tried their best to sabotage the movement for justice to A.
But the Honble Court and the law enforcement agencies stood their ground.
Also, not to forget the role of activists and media
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) June 10, 2019
The SIT in the case was formed on 23 January, 2018. The then PDP-BJP government assigned the investigation to the Crime Branch.
The team comprised of Inspector Generals of Police (IGPs) of Crime, Aloke Puri and Syed Ahfadul Mujtaba, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Crime Branch Jammu Ramesh Kumar Jalla, Deputy SP Shwetambari, Sub-Inspector Irfan Wani, Inspector KK Gupta and Assistant Sub Inspector of Police Tariq Ahmad as its members. The team was headed by Additional Superintendent of Police (SP) Crime Naveed Pirzada.
Some BJP leaders had sought the handing over of the case to the CBI, but the Supreme Court rejected the demand.
Shwetambri Sharma, who was part of the probe team, said that the team worked against heavy odds. She said that earlier, the officers faced disappointment on some occasions, particularly after they learnt that some police personnel were bribed to hush up the case, and that they had washed the victim's clothes in a bid to destroy evidence.
“I believe there was a divine intervention to bring the culprits to justice,” Sharma was quoted as saying by a news website.
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Updated Date: Jun 11, 2019 07:39:57 IST