There were attempts by the local police to destroy evidence in the probe relating to the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua, investigations by the Jammu and Kashmir crime branch have revealed, reports claimed.
A report published by media outlet NDTV said that in a letter written to Director General of Police SP Vaid, the crime branch that took over the probe says Asifa’s clothes that were soaked in blood and mud were washed by the Kathua police before they were sent to a forensic laboratory.
The crime scene was never preserved by the police, the letter written by the crime branch’s additional director general says, adding that no search was carried out in the village even after Asifa’s family filed a missing complaint.
“Action will be taken and it will become part of investigations. Anybody found wanting in his professional job shall be proceeded against departmentally and legally,” NDTV quoted Vaid saying.
Two special police officers from the Hiranagar police station, where initial investigations took place, have already been arrested for their alleged involvement in the case, NDTV reported
Asifa was kidnapped from Rasana village on January 10. According to investigations, she was drugged and held captive for a week before being murdered.
Last week two senior BJP ministers Chandra Prakash Gupta and Lal Singh attended a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, the group that has been spearheading the protest over the arrests. Mr Ganga termed the crime branch probe as “jungle raj” and directed the police not to make any more arrests.
Addressing a crowd, NDTV quoted Singh saying “What if a girl has died? Many girls have died here”. He also asked people to defy orders that prohibit a gathering of more than four persons.
Police sources say the crime was meant to drive out Muslim nomads from the Hindu-dominated village. They claim that call details and mobile tower data place the accused on the location of the crime, adding that there is evidence that drugs used to sedate Asifa were bought by one of the accused special police officers from a medical shop in Kathua days before the girl was kidnapped.
Adding to the theory of a planned crime, investigators claim links between some protesters and the murder.
Sanji Ram, a retired revenue officer, has been a key driver of the Hindu Ekta Manch protests. Officials say he is the custodian of the premises where Asifa was held captive.
The NDTV report further said that Ram rejects the allegations, claiming that he is being hounded by the crime branch as he has opposed plans by the nomads to build a mosque in the village. Asifa’s family say there was no such plan.
Villagers barred Asifa’s father from burying his daughter’s body in the land he owned. The little girl was finally laid to rest in a forest several kilometres away, reported NDTV.