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Saturday, Nov 23, 2019

15-year-old accused in Kathua rape case is afraid of the dark, has violent past

Investigators said the accused developed a hatred for the nomadic Muslims after getting into a fight. He also allegedly sexually harassed the eight-year-old victim before she was kidnapped and eventually murdered.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2018 18:30 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, Kathua/Jammu
People participate in a candle light vigil as they protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua near Jammu, and a teenager in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao, in Bengaluru, on February 15, 2018.
People participate in a candle light vigil as they protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua near Jammu, and a teenager in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao, in Bengaluru, on February 15, 2018. (Reuters)

Investigators of the Kathua rape-cum-murder case accused a 15-year-old boy of being the “main executioner” of the crime, but for his relatives he is a “lean and thin boy afraid of the dark”.

The boy is in a juvenile home for allegedly kidnapping, raping and killing the girl inside a temple in Kathua’s Rassana village. His 62-year-old uncle, the main accused, and 22-year-old cousin, are also in jail.

The boy was a “problem child” even if one goes by his family’s version.

“Around three months before he was picked up by the police (for the Kathua rape-murder)... my son and his friends were involved in a fight with some Gujjars (nomadic grazers). The boys were ‘eating and drinking’ near their homes when they were beaten up by the Gujjars. They then lodged a police complaint against him,” said his mother.

“I wanted my son to be reprimanded and disciplined, so I took him to the police station. The police were impressed with the role of a mother,” said the woman, mother to three children and wife of a school employee.

His interrogator, however, said that “the boy developed a hatred for Muslim nomads after that fight” and had thrashed his mother for taking him to the police. But the boy’s mother, who is on a fast-unto-death seeking a CBI probe into the case, dismissed the allegations and claimed her son was innocent.

The abduction, sexual assault and killing of the Bakarwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, according to the 15-page chargesheet filed earlier this week.

The boy’s cousin said he smokes and drinks, “something most teenagers in towns do nowadays”. “He was naughty, but wouldn’t rape and kill someone. He was afraid of the dark and wouldn’t even venture out to lock the house gate at night,” the cousin added.

Two days after last Diwali in October, the boy was expelled from his school. Though police claimed it was because of his “unruly behaviour with school girls”, his mother accused the school of wrongly targeting him for intervening in a quarrel between his classmates.

The expulsion was the reason given by his mother to send him to his uncle’s house in Rassana village for further studies.

According to the charge sheet, the boy had been sexually harassing the victim even before he committed the crime. Whenever he encountered the girl looking for her horses in the village forest, he would allegedly touch her sexual organs on the pretext of cleaning her up, a police officer said.

On January 10, the boy and one of his friends allegedly kidnapped the girl and “took turns to rape her before taking her to a temple”. Police in the charge sheet said the boy and his friends repeatedly raped the girl over the next four days and also allegedly called his cousin from Meerut to “satisfy his lust”.

On January 13, the boy allegedly killed the girl, but not before raping her one last time, police alleged.

The boy was the first to be caught by the police, two days after the girl’s body was discovered on January 17. “He had offered a glass of water to the police team, but they arrested him. He was so calm in police presence, he wouldn’t have committed the crime,” said his aunt.

The eight-year-old girl was abducted, sedated and raped by six men at a temple in Kathua district before being bludgeoned to death in January this year.