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Kathua rape and murder: Accused taken inside court in bulletproof vehicle, verdict shortly

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Srinagar: All the accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua have been taken inside Pathankot Court complex in a bullet-proof vehicle by Punjab police, officials said.
The court proceedings is expected to start within an hour to pronounce the much-awaited verdict. Both Defence and the prosecution have already completed the arguments.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the court and in Kathua in view of the pronouncement of the judgment, reports quoting official said. The situation will be monitored closely by the officials, they said.
The day-to-day in-camera trial began in the first week of June last year at the district and session court in Pathankot after the Supreme Court directed that the case be shifted out of J&K after lawyers in Kathua had prevented crime branch officials from filing the charge sheet in the case.
The trial was assigned to the district and sessions court in Pathankot by the Supreme Court after the victim’s family approached with a plea to transfer the case from Kathua.
The eight-year-old girl, belonging to a nomadic tribe, was allegedly kidnapped on January 10 and her body was found on January 17 last year. It is alleged that she was gang-raped and later murdered. The crime branch has arrested eight people, including a juvenile in the case.
The charge sheet has been filed against Sanji Ram and his juvenile nephew, his son Vishal, special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma and friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu.
The charge sheet also names head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta — who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.
All the accused, barring the juvenile, have been shifted to Gurdaspur jail following an intervention by the Supreme Court which also restricted appearance of the defence lawyers and limited it to one or maximum of two per accused.
The district and sessions court in Pathankot framed charges of rape and murder against the seven accused in the case on June 8 last year.
Sanji Ram, considered the main accused, is alleged to have hatched the conspiracy with the other accused for kidnapping the girl as part of a strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area
The case also became a bone of contention between then ruling alliance partners PDP and BJP. The BJP had to sack two of its ministers, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, for participating in a rally of Hindu Ekta Manch in support of those arrested by the crime branch in the case.

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