Kathua tall tales unraveled

Several holes have already appeared in the police investigation into the Kathua case

The fabricated and incendiary tales about the still unknown events surrounding the tragic death of an eight-year-old girl in Rassana village, district Kathua, Jammu province, are beginning to unravel.

Despite changing the investigation team thrice, the State has not been able to establish a case that can stand in court.

Since the discovery of her body on Jan. 17, a nine-year-old boy was found dead three days after he went missing from Bari Brahmana in Samba on March 4, where he was attending a religious congregation. A seven-year-old girl was raped at a madrasa in Katal Battal, Jammu, on March 12, 2018. Maulvi Shahnawaz, a native of West Bengal, has been arrested. This was the third incident in 2018 of minor children being victimised in Jammu region. But the latter two did not get the attention reserved for the Kathua murder[1].

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who forced the two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers who supported the demand of Kathua residents for an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the Rassana murder to resign, used the BJP’s keenness to preserve the alliance to press the Centre for further concessions, warning that the Valley was headed for “chaos” if measures were not taken to contain the anger and discontent of its youth.

At a meeting on April 15, BJP leaders asked the Chief Minister to withdraw her government’s directive to the police to ignore anti-encroachment drives against nomads without prior approval of the Tribal Affairs Department. This was seen in Jammu as an attempt to “change the demography of Jammu”. Though BJP has since asked all its ministers in the coalition to resign and pave the way for a cabinet reshuffle, the settlement of Bakkarwals in Jammu forest regions could still become a sticking point[2].

Ironically, the Kashmir Crime Branch (not Jammu) version of events in Rassana began to unravel within hours of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s speech, in the presence of President Ram Nath Kovind, at the 6th convocation at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University on April 18, 2018. In a strong speech, she said, “it is very shocking that such a heinous crime was committed with a female child considered as “the living form of mata” inside a temple”, in a city where girls are worshipped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga.

This is a highly irresponsible statement. First, it puts an entire community in the dock for a crime that is happening all over the country. Second, it fixes the Devi Sthan of Rassana as the crime scene, when that story is unsustainable. Irate villages have made video clips of the Devi Sthan to show that it has no basement as alleged, and has grilled open windows, which make everything inside visible to all. Finally, anyone with an iota of decency would know that Hindus do not have sex, let alone rape, in the presence of their divinities.

Despite changing the investigation team thrice, the State has not been able to establish a case that can stand in court. The third police team claims to have found a single strand of the victim’s hair at the alleged crime scene, but no traces of blood have been detected, which is inconceivable in a victim of such tender age. The issues of semen swabs (there should be multiple semen) and blood toxicology report (if sedated, as alleged) have been avoided; at least there is no mention in the charge sheet, though a certain medicine has been mentioned as the drug used for sedation. It would be criminal negligence on the part of the Police if these pieces of evidence are missing because a child that goes missing and is found dead seven days later would almost certainly have been abused.

The child went missing on January 10, and in the interregnum, three villages celebrated Lohri and Makar Sankranti at the Devi Sthan, so the child could hardly have been concealed in that small space. As the initial confusion clears, it appears that the body was found at a location in the jungle, midway between the Devi Sthan and the house of Sanji Ram (now the main accused), among bushes close to the beaten pathway (pakh-dandi). The body was easy to locate if someone was looking for it, and was likely thrown the same day, or it would have been found earlier, according to local reports.

Curiously, the media has made only cursory mention of a minor accused who sought bail before the Kathua Sessions judge, in the same crime. This 15-year-old boy was arrested the day after the child’s body was found, and Minister for Revenue & Parliamentary Affairs, Abdul Rehman Veeri, told the Jammu & Kashmir legislative assembly that the accused had confessed to the crime[3].

Veeri claimed that the investigation by the Special Investigation Team headed by SDPO (Border) Chadwal revealed that the accused had kidnapped the child and put her in a cowshed at village Rassana, where he attempted to rape her; when she resisted, he strangled her. The cattle shed theory has since been discredited.

In recent days, however, the investigation was expanded to include this boy’s 62-year-old uncle, Sanji Ram; his 22-year-old son, Vishal Jangotra; friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu; Special Police Officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, and Assistant Sub Inspector Anand Dutta and Head Constable Tikarad.

When Vishal Jangotra said he was appearing for his B.Sc. Part I exam at KK Jain College, Khatauli, at the time of the alleged rape, media alleged that a proxy candidate wrote the exam on his behalf. Meerut Police have, however, established that Vishal Jangotra of Aakanksha College, Meeranpur, appeared for the exam at Khatauli, UP. The idea that a village boy from Kathua can conspire with the chairman of a University in Uttar Pradesh to falsify records is too absurd to be countenanced[4].

Whatever the truth, if ever established, there is little doubt that the case has become a political standoff between predominantly Muslim Kashmir and Hindu-majority Jammu, with Kashmir trying to establish total dominance over Jammu, to the extent of deliberately interfering with its demography. This is an issue the BJP will have to factor in while deciding its future course in the State, as Mehbooba Mufti no longer enjoys popular support and cannot bring any electoral dividend.

The critical issues relate to an extremely well-funded settlement of Rohingyas in Jammu region rather than with their co-religionists in Kashmir; sharp increase in bovine smuggling from Jammu; and the controversial circular of February 14, 2018 by the Tribal Affairs Department, chaired by the Chief Minister, virtually scuttling anti-encroachment measures against (Muslim) Gujjars and Bakerwals in the forests of Jammu.

It is pertinent that former revenue official Sanji Ram was in the forefront of a local movement to persuade Jammu residents not to sell their property and abandon their homes under pressure, as has been happening in parts of the province in recent times. The demographic divide is possibly the only issue mentioned in the charge sheet that can stand public scrutiny.

References:

[1] Cleric held for raping 7-year-old at madrasaMar 14, 2018, The Tribune

[2] PDP-BJP alliance to stay, but Mehbooba warns of chaos if Valley’s youth not heardApr 15, 2018, The Indian Express

[3] 15-year-old boy accused of murdering Kathua girl arrested: GovtJan 19, 2018, Greater Kashmir

[4] Proxy candidate wrote exam for Kathua accused? Apr 14, 2018, The Hindu

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Sandhya Jain

Sandhya Jain is a writer of political and contemporary affairs. A post graduate in Political Science from the University of Delhi, she is a student of the myriad facets of Indian civilisation. Her published works include Adi Deo Arya Devata. A Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface, Rupa, 2004; and Evangelical Intrusions. Tripura: A Case Study, Rupa, 2009. She has contributed to other publications, including a chapter on Jain Dharma in “Why I am a Believer: Personal Reflections on Nine World Religions,” ed. Arvind Sharma, Penguin India, 2009.
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31 COMMENTS

  1. Mam, here is my research.I have been trying to get the recognition of the public figures for my reasoning. I urge you to write another article.

    Kashmir police must have check for the alibi first and then made their charges accordingly instead of making the charges first and then presuming the alibi is false.

    Anyway, the police are now conjecturing that he took the exam secretly later and university officials helped him after they were bribed. Question is: Did the officials have knowledge of the crime he committed and then took bribe for him to get an alibi or did they take bribe with no knowledge of the crime but with the intention of him not having an arrear?

    In the first case(university helping to get alibi), what was the bribe amount? Surely, very tempting huge amounts had to offered to college officials for them take the bribe and get themselves embroiled in a criminal case. No sensible person would accept a paltry sum and take the huge risk of getting entangled in a criminal case. How did his father, the retired Government official bribe very huge amounts of money? It is implied here that retired Govt official seems to have lot of money as to have bribed everyone including Jammu police and College officials. Retd Government official does not have as much purchasing power as a billionaire.

    If university officials let him take exam so that he does not have an arrear, then it is expected that he would have scored very well in examination.If not scored very well, at least passed in the examination. After all, in the bribe in this case was offered to pass in the examination. Is the bribed college official who supposedly let him take the exam secretly too moral and too holy not let him use the textbook during the secret examination?(I believe)there are records that suggest that he flunked miserably in the exam. We must take into history of his performance in the exams.

    Further, Jammu Police expects us to believe that there was a foul-play at the university? Now, What reason do we have to not to believe in the foul-play during investigation? Secondly, the college is not autonomous for them to easily create an alibi. The student is first year student, not a final year one. I do not see the teachers obliging to the request of first year student who would graduate after two years.

    It appears that Kashmir police had not taken the alibi before making the charges and now they’re caught in soup and they simply now want us to believe in foul play at the university.There is no reason to believe in a foul-play at the university other than it being necessary for the Kashmir police to carry on their prosecution.

    You may mail me at subbu.articles@gmail.com

    • Thank you. The claim of bribing officials in a university as alleged is ridiculous and unsustainable.
      The case is now committed to the District & Sessions court, Pathankot, and all hearings will be in camera, in the interests of justice. I am sure that the lawyers of the accused will bring every lacuna out in court. We cannot now discuss this case further.
      The Supreme Court is monitoring the case to ensure that there are no delays, so a verdict could come within less than a year. Let us wait

  2. Mam, Would you be able to write an article asking for a conclusive explanation(not speculative explanation) of how the answer sheet of the accused was submitted and attendance being marked present? And, if there had been a foul play in the submission of the answer sheet, shouldn’t those involved in the foul play be found out and proved and charged for aiding and abetting?

    I am of the opinion that conclusive explanation is needed for the truth to be established and to bring the case to closure. It’s my humble request, Mam. I do not have much experience in law or journalism, so I urge you to think and do what’s best for yourself. Please do check the facts.

    • After all, if the police know the exact words spoken by the Vishal in Meerut, then they police should be able to provide an explanation as to how the exam paper was submitted?

    • If the University has been bribed and the student has failed, what should we make of this ridiculous situation?

  3. Mam, you have a written a wonderful article!

    I would like to point out that The Hindu article is based on a logical inconsistency. CCTV footage could certainly confirm the presence of an individual; CCTV does not necessarily confirm the absence.

    Let me point out the inconsistency:

    The accused’s absence was inferred because the footage did not show his presence. If this it to a be a valid inference, it would entail that all exam-takers who had been present would have been captured by the CCTV footage. So, if proxy might have taken the exam, then the proxy also would have been captured by CCTV footage. There is no room for speculation.

    The point of fact is: the registrar can’t infer the accused’s absence from the his non-appearance in the footage and simultaneously expect others to believe in the presence of proxy without showing who the proxy is in the footage.

    Simply put without footage of neither, how’s accused absent and proxy’s present?

      • Madam, I think that something is partially correct. Criminal is only Juvenile Shubham Sangra. He was allegedly having bad character. Sanji ram, just to save him, bribed officers and officers tried to save Shubham. But with the active pursuance of Talib Hussain, the hurriyat man, SIT somehow was able to implicate all of them as SIT credibility is itself in question. I think that juvenile Shubham was pressured to implicate others and many evidences are fabricated.

      • Madam, Indian express has changed its report on swabs matching with dna of accused, admitting that it was incorrect. there is no blood sample from devisthan now. So dainik jagran theory gets stronger as second post mortem report can’t give any specific conclusion of the crime of this nature. Where is the justice of that innocent child?

        • We have to see what emerges in the Court room. Right now Kashmir Police has denied all stories that have emerged in the media.

          We must also not lose sight of the fact that a child went missing for SIX days, was found dead on the 7th day.

  4. Right from the beginning the narrative dished out by MSM has only been full of holes. The report of a muslim girl being drugged and raped for a week and finally murdered in a temple by hindus, and hard core hindus as the reports seemed to imply, is obnoxious. And the reports trickling in thereafter about the rohingya problem, mehbooba mufti’s dip Srinagar ratings, assigning a rabid muslim accused in the rape and murder of a hindu girl for the investigations in Jammu etc add up to make the conspiracy by anti nationals and hindu baitors a reality. It is time the Centre intervened and ordered a CBI inquiry into the crime and its investigation by the state agencies and also the apex court had the trial ordered in a court outside J&K.

  5. कृपया यह लेख हिंदी में भी प्रकाशित करें ताकि हम सभी ठीक से समझ सके ।धन्यवाद

  6. Madam you mentioned that Meerut Police has established presence of Vishal on that day. How did Meerut police established? Do they have CDR of vishal.

    • When so many false statements are in public domain thanks to the bsised media why not the truth and counter arguments be in public domain.

  7. This is 1st time dat 1 cm Mehbooba never want a cbi enquiry;is it not enough to say something hide on this matter and if thoroughly investigate d real culprit will found;d question is why bjp mla took resigned? A tricks to capture Jammu valley is also a reason to malign bjp nd hindu community

  8. It is beyond the comprehension of common man that state Govt.is not ordering CBI enquiry. Their reluctance itself shows mischiviousness on the part of Govt. This is a very sensitive case when entire Hindu community has been branded as one encouraging reps. Though facts are that we worship them as goddesses.

  9. Clearly there seems to be a hidden agenda behind this episode as the evidence available so far don’t seem to stack up. The conduct of J&K police clearly shows that they have a lot to hide and are dancing to the tune of their of
    their political masters . It is better if the investigation is handed over to CBI

    • Hmm… CBI enquiry would do good… For an issue that raised slogans across India…..
      No one can just accuse Hindus n Hindu gods just like that and go unscathed….
      Let them prove their accusations.

      • I think the police work is too shoddy to prove anything. Mehbooba has to answer for Govt interference and THREE teams of investigators that produced nothing at the end of it

    • There are two tragedies here. One that something terrible happened to a child for nearly seven days. Two, the investigation has been made political-communal and the truth may never be known.

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