Kathua Gangrape Victim’s Family Hopeful Of Justice

Jammu- The family of the eight-year-old nomadic girl, who was raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district in 2018, welcomed the Supreme Court judgement on Wednesday that one of the accused claiming to be a juvenile can be treated as an adult.

Mohammed Yusuf, who had adopted the minor, and Mohammed Akthar, her biological father, said the verdict generated a hope of complete justice.

The apex court set aside the orders of the chief judicial magistrate of Kathua and the high court which had held that accused Shubam Sangra was a juvenile and should to be tried separately.

“Medical opinion regarding age in absence of any other conclusive evidence should be considered to determine the age range of the accused…Whether medical evidence can be relied upon or not depends on the value of evidence,” a bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and J B Pardiwala said.

The court held that medical opinion regarding the age of an accused cannot be “brushed aside” in the absence of any statutory proof on the same issue.

“We welcome the judgement of the Supreme Court, and we are hopeful that we will finally get complete justice as Sangra is the main accused in the case,” Yusuf said.

Yusuf and Akhtar, who are relatives, reached Samba district along with their families over a fortnight back after spending six months in search of greener pastures in Kargil district of Ladakh.

The case triggered a nationwide outrage when the minor was found murdered on January 17, 2018. After initial hiccups, the case was handed over to the crime branch on January 27 the same year which unravelled the conspiracy behind the heinous crime where the little girl was kidnapped and brutally raped for four days before being killed in a barbaric manner.

“We did not get complete justice so far as some of the convicted persons are already out on bail over the past one year,” Akhtar said, referring to the release of former sub-inspector Anand Dutta and head constable Tilak Raj by the Punjab and Haryana High court, which suspended the rest of their sentences pending an appeal.

Yusuf said they were dejected by certain developments, including the release of the culprits on bail, but the latest verdict came as a major relief for them as “we feel the victim will get justice finally”.

On February 7, 2020, the top court had stayed the proceedings before the Juvenile Justice Board against Sangra after the Jammu and Kashmir administration claimed that the high court had erroneously affirmed the order of a trial court holding him as juvenile at the time of the offence in 2018.

The Union territory administration had said the medical board constituted by the high court by its order of February 21, 2018 had opined that the accused was aged between 19 and 23 years at the time of offence.

The top court on May 7, 2018 had transferred the trial of the case from Kathua in Jammu to Pathankot in Punjab and ordered for a day-to-day trial after some lawyers prevented the Crime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the sensational case.

The special court on June 10, 2019 sentenced three men to life imprisonment till last breath for the ghastly crime.

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