Eight year old Asifa was gang raped and killed to drive out Bakherwals from Kathua

Eight year old Asifa was gang raped and killed to drive out Bakherwals from Kathua

Srinagar/New Delhi, April 13 (NDTV): An eight-year-old girl was gang-raped repeatedly inside a village temple, kept sedated for hours, and raped again just before being killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua by six men, including one who had been “invited” to come all the way from Meerut to “satisfy his lust”, the police have told a court.

Asifa, held captive for a week in January, was strangled and then hit with a large stone by the rapists “just to be sure that she was dead”, a police charge-sheet reveals in horrifying detail.

The kidnapping, rape and killing of the girl of the Bakherwal community at the Rassana area of Kathua was part of a planned chilling strategy to instill fear and drive the nomadic tribe out of the region, reveals the charge-sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the chief judicial magistrate’s court on Monday.

Sanji Ram, the caretaker of the “Devisthan” (small temple), is listed as the main conspirator behind the crime that has left the nation shocked at the sheer depravity of it.

Sanji Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar or Mannu, Sanji Ram’s underage nephew and Sanji Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra or “Shamma”. According to the charge-sheet, on January 11, Sanji Ram’s nephew phoned his cousin Vishal Jangotra and asked him to return from Meerut, where he was studying, if he wanted to “satisfy his lust”.

Just before Asifa was killed in the forests, Deepak Khajuria, a Special Police Officer, told the accused to wait as “he wanted to rape her before she is killed”. The girl was once again gang-raped before her head was bashed in.

“The juvenile (Sanji Ram’s nephew) hit the girl twice with a stone on her head and later dumped her body in the forest after their plan to throw the body in a canal could not materialize due to the failure to arrange a vehicle,” the charge-sheet says.

The chargresheet also namess two more policemen, the head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta – who allegedly took Rs. 400,000 from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.
The child’s body was found in the forests near her village on January 17.

Asifa went missing on January 10 while grazing horses in the forest. Investigators said the accused men kidnapped her after pretending to help her find her horses.

A day later, her parents went to the temple and asked Sanji Ram about her. He said she may have gone to a relative’s house. According to the charge-sheet, Sanji Ram gave the girl sedatives while holding her at the Devisthan.

His nephew, a school dropout, turned out to be the main player in the kidnapping and murder. He raped the child repeatedly along with his cousin and police officer Khajuria, says the charge-sheet.

The nephew’s medical report shows he is not underage but it is yet to be accepted by the court.

“Khajuria incited the juvenile to kidnap the girl, promising to help him cheat and pass his exams in return. Subsequently, he shared the plan, worked out by Sanji Ram and Khajuria, with Parvesh Kumar alias ‘Mannu’, his close friend and asked for the juvenile’s help in executing the plan,” the charge-sheet reveals.

Vishal Jangotra reached Kathua after his cousin’s call and also raped the sedated girl along with two of the accused. Sanji Ram and his nephew performed the usual temple rituals to avoid suspicion.

It was on Sanji Ram’s direction that the child was removed from the temple and taken to a culvert in the forest where the accused planned to kill her.

Asifa and her body found in the forest: Photo: Rising Kashmir

On January 23, about a week after the body was discovered, the government handed over the case to the Crime Branch, which formed a Special Investigation Team.

The police learnt that in the first week of January, Sanji Ram decided to act on his plan to dislodge the Bakherwal community; it had been brewing in his mind.

“He made the accused Deepak Khajuria and his nephew part of the conspiracy and assigned them tasks separately and individually,” the chargesheet said.

Sanji Ram surrendered on March 20 a day after his son was arrested from Meerut.

After Asifa’s body was recovered, head constable Raj, who knew about the conspiracy, met Sanji Ram and requested him to “hand over” one of the accused as there was too much anger among the Bakherwals. However, Sanji Ram paid Raj Rs. 1 lakh.

The investigation explained in detail how the accused police officials washed the clothes of the girl before sending them to the forensic laboratory and planted false evidence.

Sanji Ram was against the Bakherwals living in the Rassana, Kootah and Dhamyal area and always kept on instigating people of his community against giving them land to graze.

Eight men accused in the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl have seized the attention of millions of as rage course through India at the horror of what the little girl suffered. The crime was planned by a former revenue officer who wanted to drive out her nomadic community of Bakerwals out of the Rassana area of Kathua.

On January 10, the little girl in a purple dress, was grazing her horses near her one-room home when one of the accused, a 19-year-old, called her into the forest pretending to help look for a missing horse. The horse returned without her.

The police say the man dragged her to a small village temple. For three days, the man and two others gang-raped her repeatedly, keeping her sedated and without food. Before she was strangled and hit twice with a heavy rock for good measure, one of the men stopped the killer to rape her one last time

The girl’s body was found in the forests on January 17.

Investigations led the police to the 19-year-old school dropout who had often seen the girl grazing horses, and to his uncle Sanji Ram, who was in charge of the temple where police found forensic evidence.

The teen had first claimed to be 15 but medical tests confirm he is not underage. He has confessed, say the police, and his DNA matches the hair found on the child’s body.

Sannji Ram is accused No: 2. The former government official allegedly planned the depraved crime and even kept side a huge amount of money for bribes. He was arrested after the teen’s confession, forensic tests and based on the interrogation of various suspects.

The man who allegedly wanted to rape the girl one more time before she was killed is Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria, according to the police chargesheet.

He was named in the teen’s statement to the police. Call data records also established his presence at the place where she was kept locked in for days.

The fourth accused is another Special Police Officer, Surinder Kumar. Witnesses saw him at the crime scene. Call data records also prove his presence.

The teen named his friend Parvesh Kumar, who is the fifth accused. He was one of the men who repeatedly raped the child.

Sanji Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra was arrested on the basis of forensic tests. Vishal, studying in Meerut, travelled to Kathua after a phone-call from the teen who said he could “satisfy his lust”, the police chargesheet says.

Two more accused are policemen who knew of the horrific crime and tried their best to cover it up for a huge bribe.

The chargesheet says sub-inspector Anand Dutta and head constable Tilak Raj didn’t collect vital evidence and washed the girl’s dress to help the accused.

8-year-old’s rape and murder sparks huge outcry across India. Cops name 8 as accused in case, say 3 of them raped her for 3 days.Say crime was planned by ex-bureaucrat who wanted to scare her community.

(The featured  image at the top shows Sanji Ram, the ex-government official who masterminded the rape  and murder)