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Kathua rape-murder case: Biggest challenge was to safeguard evidence, says J&K IG Ahfadul Mujtaba

Six persons have been convicted rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua and one has been acquitted in the case...we will examine that [acquittal] and if the need arises, then we will also go for an appeal.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2019 07:09 IST
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kathua rape case,Katrhua rape and murder,Ahfadul Mujtaba
June 10, 2019: Police personnel deployed outside district court complex at Pathankot, Punjab on Monday, June 10, 2019. (HT Photo)

Ahfadul Mujtaba, the inspector general of Jammu and Kashmir’s police crime branch, oversaw the investigation into the January 2018 rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. He spoke to Mir Ehsan about the challenges they faced while investigating the case that was handed over to them amid protests in Kathua against the arrest of the eight accused. Edited excerpts:

How difficult was the case for you to handle?

It was a very difficult case as there was some destruction of the evidence. The other obstacle was that people started taking to the streets... we did not react to the protestors. Our entire focus was on the collection of evidence... we had to go to the high court and then the Supreme Court as there were various issues and petitions regarding this case...[We feel] vindicated. Six persons have been convicted and one has been acquitted in the case...we will examine that [acquittal] and if the need arises, then we will also go for an appeal.

What were the main challenges you faced?

Every case is difficult. In such a case, the collection of evidence is always a very difficult job.

At one point 45 lawyers represented the accused. Did that put you under pressure?

Not at all. Our public prosecutor, Santok Singh Basra, is one of the most competent lawyers I have known. He handled the case very professionally.

What would you credit the cracking of this case to?

The credit will go to the [crime branch] team members, who investigated the case meticulously. It has been proved how good they are. In this case, we had four prosecutors — Santok Singh Basra, Mr Chopra, Bhupinder Singh and Harminder Singh. We did our job without any fear and favour. Every member of our team deserves appreciation.

First Published: Jun 11, 2019 07:08 IST