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Kathua rape case verdict: A commendable job by police, judiciary

he Kathua case should be a template for these cases: solid investigation and the delivery of justice within a specific time-frame are critical; it is equally important for political parties to desist from politicising such cases.

editorials Updated: Jun 10, 2019 20:21 IST
Hindustan Times
kathua rape case,kathua,rape
People demand justice for the eight-year-old Kathua rape case victim, Srinagar, April 14, 2018(Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times)

A fast-track court on Monday convicted six people for the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district last year. Three have been sentenced to life in jail. The other three have got five years for destroying evidence to shield the rapists. A seventh accused was acquitted by the court which gave him the “benefit of doubt”.

The girl, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic community (the Bakarwals), had been sedated and raped repeatedly for four days, and later strangled and bludgeoned to make sure she was dead. The rape-and-murder strategy was probably planned and deliberate, part of a larger plan to drive out the minority nomadic community from their land. The tension between the Bakarwals and Rasana Hindus was so strong that the latter opposed the burial of the girl in the locality, saying the property never belonged to the nomadic family and that they had been burying their dead illegally there all these years.

The Kathua rape case also drove a wedge between the then BJP-Peoples’ Democratic Party alliance in Jammu and Kashmir after two BJP leaders participated in a rally organised in support of the accused. Realising that there might be a miscarriage of justice in such a charged atmosphere, the Supreme Court correctly shifted the case from Kathua to Pathankot in Punjab, thereby assuring the parents of the girl and other citizens concerned that no matter what the economic and social standing of girl’s parents is, the legal system will stand by the truth and justice will be delivered.

The Special Investigation Team of the Jammu and Kashmir Police too did a commendable job: they conducted a thoroughly professional investigation and presented a detailed charge-sheet to the court. This was not easy because the local police had been bribed by one of the convicts to tamper with evidence; they had even washed the young victim’s clothes to destroy material evidence.

In the last few weeks, there has been a spate of heinous crimes, especially rapes, with the victims being minor girls from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The Kathua case should be a template for these cases: solid investigation and the delivery of justice within a specific time-frame are critical; it is equally important for political parties to desist from politicising such cases.

First Published: Jun 10, 2019 20:21 IST