SRINAGAR: The suspension of the sentence of a Jammu and Kashmir police officer, Anand Dutta convicted for destruction of evidence in the Kathua rape and murder case has not gone with the family and the then Chief Minister, Mehbooba mufti. The 8-year old nomad girl’s kidnapping, rape and murder had triggered global condemnations and severe national reaction forcing Ms Mufti to ensure two of the BJP ministers in her cabinet resign.
“Perturbed that the policeman convicted for destroying evidence in Kathua rape case was granted bail and his jail term suspended,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted. “When a child raped and bludgeoned to death is deprived of justice, it becomes obvious that the wheels of justice have completely collapsed.”
The eight-year-old girl was kidnapped, kept hostage in a temple, raped and eventually murdered in a Kathua village in January 2018. The case was established and investigated by the best team of Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch. A court in Pathankot (Punjab) pronounced the verdict in the case on June 10, 2019. The cased was shifted to this court on the directions of the Supreme Court.
Six people were convicted. These included the main accused Sanji Ram, dismissed Special Police Officers Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar who were sentenced to life imprisonment. Three dismissed cops Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj, and Surender Verma were sentenced to five years in jail for hampering material evidence.
Dutta, was a Sub Inspector and in-charge of the police station when the crime took place. His counsel pleaded the accused contended that he was falsely implicated in the case and that the allegations levelled by the prosecution were not corroborated by any material particulars. Besides, he said the accused has undergone more than half of the substantive sentence awarded to him (2 years 7 months and three days) and that sentence of the co-accused Tilak Raj was earlier suspended by the High Court on December 16, 2021. Before being bailed out, Dutta had availed a parole for 11 months and 14 days.
Dutta’s bail and suspension of the sentence has panicked the slain girls’ parents.
“I am surprised that two accused have been left on bail. Our appeal for enhancement of sentence is still pending while their appeal has been addressed. I wonder whether poor people like us will ever be heard,” Mohammad Akhter, the slain girl’s biological father has told reporters. “I hope the Supreme Court looks into the matter and takes some action as no one is hearing our petition.”
The girl had a biological father an adopted father, Mohammed Yusuf. He has told reporters that there were efforts to “dilute the case to the extent that all the culprits were out”. He has apprehension that with the killers of her daughter out from jail, he may one day be arrested on some frivolous charges and jailed.