Rasana case: SIT set up by Mehbooba Mufti set to face music

Jammu court directs SSP to register FIR against all six members

Jammu court directs SSP to register FIR against all six members
Jammu court directs SSP to register FIR against all six members
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Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jammu has passed an order directing SSP to register an FIR against six members of SIT for allegedly torturing and coercing witnesses to give false statements.

Special Investigation Team, set up by the former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to probe charges of rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl from Rasana in Kathua district is all set to face the music.

In a significant development in the case, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jammu has passed an order directing Superintendent of police (SSP), Jammu to register an FIR against six members of the special investigation team (SIT) of the state crime branch for allegedly torturing and coercing witnesses to give false statements.

The six-member SIT team comprised, SSP R K Jalla (now retired), ASP Peerzada Naveed, deputy superintendents of police Shwetambari Sharma and Nassir Hussain, sub-inspector Urfan Wani and Kewal Kishore of the crime branch of the police.

In its order, Judicial Magistrate Prem Sagar said, “From the gist of the complaint, cognizable offences are made out against the non-applicants (six crime branch officials) herein.

When contacted SSP Jammu Tejinder Singh said, ” as of now I have not received a copy of the order. I cannot comment on these developments”. “Let me first go through the official order copy of CJM court”, he added.

Advocate Ankur Sharma had filed the application on behalf of three witnesses in the case, Sachin Sharma of Kathua, Neeraj Sharma of Marheen and Sahil Sharma of Rajpura Samba.

These three witnesses were studying together, with one of the accused in the case, Vishal Jhangotra, in a private college of Meerut University when the rape and murder were reported in the month of January 2018.

Earlier, on June 10, 2019, a fast track court in Pathankot had delivered a strongly worded judgement convicting six of the seven accused in the rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old girl.

A seventh accused, Vishal Jhangotra — son of main accused Sanjhi Ram — was acquitted by the court in the absence of any credible evidence on record.

According to the court order dated October 22, 2019, the applicants in the case had filed a complaint before the SHO of Pacca Danga police station in Jammu on 24 September 2019 seeking registration of FIR under section 194 of the IPC (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence) and other relevant provisions of the law against the members of the SIT.

The applicants argued that the grounds of registration of FIR were how Sachin Sharma and Neeraj Sharma from Kathua district and Sahil Sharma from adjacent Samba district were ‘forced/tortured/coerced’ by all the members of the SIT to ‘depose and create false evidence against accused Vishal Jhangotra’.

In its order, Judicial Magistrate Prem Sagar said, “From the gist of the complaint, cognizable offences are made out against the non-applicants (six crime branch officials) herein.

Therefore, an application under Section 156(3) CrPc is allowed with a direction to SSP, Jammu to register FIR against non-applicants under relevant provisions of law and report compliance by November 7, the next date of hearing”.

Advocate Ankur Sharma said, “with this order, even the stigma attached with the people of Jammu region that they were standing with the alleged rapists, has washed away”.

SIT members beat us with leather belts: Complainant

Narrating his ordeal, one of the complainants Sahil Sharma said, “SIT team members used to thrash them with leather belts during interrogation in their Jammu office located near Panjthirthi before recording their statements under duress”.

He said, “we are paying a heavy price for staying together with Vishal Jhangotra. Ever since this case was reported, we have not been able to pursue our studies. After my first semester examinations, I could not appear in my second-semester examination. I discontinued the course and now I have enrolled myself in the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) for my BA course”. Sahil Sharma said, “I am also preparing for recruitment rally of the Indian army in the coming weeks”.

Paid the price for staying and studying with Vishal Jhangotra: Complainant

Memories of torture are still fresh in his mind. Sahil Sharma said, “SIT members, including Ramesh Jalla and Peerzada Naveed, used to torture them, physically and mentally. They used to question us in a conference hall in their Jammu office. Even our parents were disallowed inside the police complex where the office of SIT team was located.”

“They used to detain us throughout the day and when we were hungry and thirsty we used to call our parents to serve us water”.

Sahil said SIT members used to beat us one by one in front of each other with leather belts. After we approached the Apex court, we earned partial relief. The court directed SIT to record our statements in the presence of our parents. Sahil said, “even then SIT team members played mischief and prevented our parents to keep a check on their activities during interrogation”.

Jammuites never sided with rapists: Ankur Sharma

Advocate Ankur Sharma said, “The FIR has been ordered by the city judge against six SIT members, including the then SSP Crime Branch RK Jalla, for custodial torture, illegal confinement, criminal intimidation and creation of false evidence against my clients, who were made witnesses in the case”.

He said, “with this order, even the stigma attached with the people of Jammu region that they were standing with the alleged rapists, has washed away”.

Sharma said, “the CJM court order has also settled the debate that our demand for holding an independent CBI probe in the matter was justified”.

He said, “it is a tight slap on the faces of all those people who had joined hands together to scuttle the CBI probe aimed at exposing the real culprits behind the heinous crime.

Sounding a word of caution, Ankur Sharma said: “as of now there is no reason for me to believe that SSP, Jammu would not comply with the CJM Court orders but in case it happens we will seek justice through other legal means by approaching the court of law”.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

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