The Kathua rape and murder case had shocked the entire nation. The chilling details of how a little girl was gang raped and brutalised shook the conscience of the society. However, vested interests soon tried making a political and communal issue out of the entire tragedy. Some media outlets even divulged the name of the victim in total disregard of the law so that a communal angle could be given to the crime.
In such a sensitive case, it was imperative upon the state government and the local police to take all necessary precautions and safeguards. However, details of inconsistencies in the police investigations and the charge-sheet filed by the police have been emerging as reported by several newspapers. Now, a group of five eminent women have submitted a factual report bringing to light an array of inconsistencies in police investigations and the ground realities. The group called the ‘Group of intellectuals and Academicians (GIA)’ has submitted a factual report recording their findings to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of State for Personnel, Jitendra Singh. They have demanded a CBI probe in the matter. The group includes distinguished women consisting retired judge Meera Khadakkar, Supreme Court advocate Monika Arora, Delhi University professor Sonali Chaitalkar, social activist Monica Agarwaal and journalist Sarjana Sharma.
— Monika Arora (@advmonikaarora) May 4, 2018
Submitted #Factfindingreport on #KathuaFacts to Hon'ble Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh demanding #CBIenquiry for getting justice for the victim. Crime branch seems to have done shoddy & botched up investigation @DrJitendraSingh pic.twitter.com/Q5aJ3hpm3P
— Monika Arora (@advmonikaarora) May 4, 2018
GIA has pointed out several loopholes in the autopsy and police reports. The not-for-profit organization visited Kathua on 23rd and 24th April. They have met more than 25 people in the course of their fact-finding exercise including the victim’s family, the family members of the accused and some people from the nomadic bakerwal community to which the girl belonged. In the report, the group has raised questions such as “the absence of injuries” on the victim’s private parts. They have voiced concern about how the people of Jammu region in the state would feel isolated about this issue. They have stated that the government of Jammu and Kashmir should not turn a deaf ear towards the grievances of the people of Jammu and stop taking steps that further alienates the people of Jammu.
Some pertinent questions, which have remained unanswered, have been raised in the fact-finding report. It questions inconsistencies in the findings of two autopsy reports- one on January 17 and second on March 19. It has also questioned the plausibility of the girl being held captive for six days in the devasthan which the group has stated is only a small 20×35 feet room where there is no furniture except a three feet table. There is no basement attached to the devasthan. The room is also clearly visible from the outside. Moreover, it is flocked by the locals due to its religious importance. In such circumstances, it would not have been possible to keep the girl hidden in the devasthan for so long contrary to what the charge-sheet alleges.
It also questions why the investigation teams were changed thrice within a span of 10 days. Also questionable is the fact that the victim’s body was found within 100 meters of the main accused’s house instead of being disposed of in the adjacent jungle. Moreover, the investigations also seem to have been defective in the sense that the alleged crime scene was not even sealed. They have also cast aspersions on the fact as to why there were no traces of blood, stool or urine at the devasthan.
Apart from this, the details of one of the accused not having been present in Jammu at the time of the crime have also emerged. It has also come to light that he was in Meerut when the cruel crime was committed. It is established law that the plea of alibi, if successfully established, is a conclusive defence for the accused. The police ought to have investigated the case in detail including this angle.
Minister Jitnedra Singh has promised that the fact-finding report will be sent to the concerned court for ensuring fair play in the trial. He has promised that the government will take necessary action in order to ensure that those behind the brutal crime are not allowed to go free and at the same time no innocent person is wrongly punished.
Fair investigation by the police is a sine qua non (essential prerequisite) for a fair trial. However, in the kathua case, a number of loopholes and questions have come up with regard to the findings reached by the police. No one is contesting the fact that those who brutalised the little girl in Kathua should be severely punished but at the same time it does not make sense to carry out shoddy investigations and punish anyone arrested by the police. It is time that the state government and the police answer these pertinent questions.