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Kathua gang rape-cum-murder case

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Jammu and Kashmir :The Jammu and Kashmir police Monday said it may challenge the acquittal of the seventh accused in the Kathua gang rape-cum-murder case, in which three persons were sentenced to jail till their last breath and three others for five years each.

IGP Ahfadul Mujtaba of the state police Crime Branch, which investigated the horrific gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl of a nomadic tribe in J&K’s Kathua in January 2018, said the police will challenge the acquittal of the seventh accused “if needed”.

The IGP talked of challenging the acquittal of one accused while welcoming the conviction of six others.

Six of the seven accused in the case, including the caretaker of a temple where the crime took place and a special police officer, were convicted by a Pathankot court on Monday. The court acquitted seventh accused Vishal, the son of main accused Sanji Ram, giving him the ‘benefit of doubt’, said Farooqi Khan, who represented the victim’s family in the court.

“We welcome this verdict except that one person has been acquitted,” said Inspector General of Police Ahfadul Mujtaba of J&K Police’s Crime Branch. The IGP said the police were yet to get the copy of the judgment.

“Once we examine it and if needed, we will challenge it in the Punjab and Haryana High Court,” said Mujtaba. The case was tried by a Pathankot court in Punjab as the same had been transferred there amid a highly polarised communal situation.

“Actually (seventh accused) Vishal had taken the alibi that he was not present there (at the scene of the crime), though we have eyewitnesses’ account of his presence there. We have eyewitnesses who said he was very much there on the day of the incident,” the IGP said.

The court, however, has accepted his alibi, said the IGP, adding the police would examine under what circumstances Vishal was acquitted.

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