Amid high drama and protests by lawyers in court of Chief Judicial Magistrate to prevent filing of chargesheet, the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police Monday filed chargesheet against seven accused in the rape and murder of 8-year-old minor girl of Kathua.
As some vehicles of Crime Branch including a 407 vehicle carrying seven accused entered the court complex in police protection to produce challan against them in court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Kathua today, large number of lawyers assembled around the Crime Branch vehicles and men and stopped them from producing challans against the accused.
They attempt to prevent Crime Branch from taking accused to the Court of CJM Kathua Amarjeet Singh Langeh, where they were to be produced at the time of filing of challans.
Amid sloganeering against government and Crime Branch, the lawyers did not allow the Crime Branch to proceed towards the CJM’s room.
As the situation turned tense, district police force and CRPF reinforcement was rushed to the court complex to maintain law and order and allow the Crime Branch officials to do their work and take the accused to the court and produce charge sheet against them.
“The lawyers continued their protest and chanted slogans like “Go Back-Go Back, Crime Branch Go Back” and “We Want CBI Probe”. They were also allegedly shouting slogans in defense of the accused persons,” witnesses said.
The atmosphere was fully charged with lawyers venting their anger against the investigating team and police.
After over one and half hour of chaos in the district court complex, the accused persons were shifted to District Police Lines, Kathua amid fears that locals may join the lawyers protest.
To defuse any further escalation of tension, police and paramilitary personnel in large numbers were deployed around the DPL Kathua and outside the residence of CJM Kathua for security reasons.
To avoid any confrontation with the agitating lawyers, the police also left the venue.
“Crime Branch officials had come to produce challans against the accused on the pious land of Kathua. We have boycotted Crime Branch and forced them to flee the District Court Complex Kathua,” shouted a lawyer.
He said they want CBI to probe rape and murder of Asifa.
“If Jammu people want CBI probe in Asifa’s case, I don’t understand why government is not handing over case to the CBI,” he said.
Another lawyer said they were hackled by the police in the Court Complex.
“Kathua Bar Association and Jammu Bar Association has given bandh call on April 11,” he said.
A member of Kathua Bar Association told media that Crime Branch’s investigating officer tried to produce challan in the court at 4.30 pm.
“Another attempt was made by Crime Branch when they tried to produce chargesheet against the accused at the residence of CJM Kathua but the lawyers reached there and held demonstration and prevented them from doing so,” he said.
However, IGP Crime Syed Afadul Mujtaba said the charge sheet was filed under different sections of Ranbir Penal Code including section 302,376,120(b) at Kathua court today.
The Crime Branch has presented the charge sheet against seven persons —
SPO Deepak Khajuria, SPO Surinder Verma, Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, Head constable Tilak Raj, Retired Patwari Sanji Ram and his son Vishal Kumar.
IGP said a juvenile has also been arrested and his case is being processed.
The charge sheet has been filed few days after DNA test confirmed that the Asifa was held captive inside a temple before being strangulated after rape.
Asifa Bano, an eight-year-old nomad Muslim girl, was abducted, raped and murdered in Hiranagar area of Kathua district on January 10 and her body was spotted by villagers in a nearby forest on January 17.
When contacted and asked if any action was taken against the lawyers who prevented police from filing charge sheet, Director General of Police, S P Vaid said, “There were slogans. However, we were successful in our mission.”
Sources said the CJM was also reluctant to accept the chargesheet. However, following intervention of the government, he accepted the charge sheet after making the Crime Branch officials to wait for four hours.
It may be recalled here that Kathua and Samba districts have witnessed communal divide after Crime Branch was accused by the locals of biased probe in Asifa’s case.
The Hindu Ekta Manch has been demanding release of the accused and handing over of case to CBI.
However, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has rejected their demand and asserted that probe would be taken to logical conclusion by Crime Branch.
Meanwhile, Jammu Bar Association has called for Jammu bandh on April 11 in protest against the CB probe.
The Bar Association has demanded handing over of investigation of Asifa’s case to CBI.