The eight people accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old girl here Monday pleaded not guilty and asked the district and sessions judge for a narco test.
As the trial in the case, which has become the focal point of outrage across the country, began here, District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Gupta asked the state Crime Branch to give copies of the charge sheet to the accused and fixed April 28 as the next date of hearing.
While seven accused were presented before the district and sessions judge, the eighth is a juvenile who moved a bail application before a judicial magistrate. The application will be heard later today.
The child from a minority nomadic community was allegedly held in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January this year during which she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death.
According to the chargesheets filed by the crime branch, the abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the nomadic community from the area. A separate chargesheet was filed for the juvenile.
Sanji Ram, the caretaker of the ‘devisthan’ in a village in Kathua, about 90 km from Jammu, is listed as the main conspirator behind the crime.
He was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, Ram’s nephew, a juvenile, and his son Vishal Jangotra alias “Shamma”.
The chargesheet also names investigating officers head constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.
As the trial began inside the court, Ram’s daughter Madhu Sharma protested outside, demanding a CBI probe.
The issue of providing the accused copies of the “challan”, or the chargesheet, was raised before the judge by the lawyers, Ankush Sharma, who is pleading the case for Sanji Ram, his son and others, told reporters.
He said the chargesheet was presented in court on April 9 but copies had not yet been provided.
Ram told the judge that they wanted narco tests and were ready for them.
The judge asked the accused whether they had been given copies of the chargesheet, which runs into 400 pages, added A K Sawahney, who is representing head constable Tilak Raj.
He told reporters that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had been talking about a fast track trial but copies of the chargesheet had still not been provided to them.
The Supreme Court will hear two separate petitions on the case today afternoon.
Kathua-based lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat, representing the family of the eight-year-old girl, has alleged that she is facing a threat to life and is seeking protection.
A second plea is by Delhi-based lawyer Anuja Kapur, seeking transfer of the case from the Kathua trial court to a local court in the national capital.