Fact finding team says Kathua chargesheet has glaring loopholes, demand fair probe

A five member fact-finding team which had visited Kathua on three days from 23 April, to study the rape and murder case of a minor girl, submitted its report to Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Friday. This fact-finding team known as Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA), comprises of a retired judge, a journalist, an educationist, a professor and Supreme Court advocate Monika Arora, who informed about the meet on Twitter:

As per a report by IANS, while submitting the report, the fact-finding committee has demanded a CBI probe in the matter, a demand which has also been made by Jammu lawyers and BJP leaders.

GIA’s member Ms. Arora also participated in a periscope session where she detailed out the various findings of the team. These are few of the key points:

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They decided to investigate and verify the facts of the matter, after they observed that a whole community was being demonised and a narrative was being set, while they felt that things weren’t adding up.

During the stay, they interviewed the family of the victim and the accused, besides meeting members of the Bakarwal community, local villagers, senior police officers and CM Mehbooba Mufti.

Coming to the loopholes, she claimed that Bishan Singh a resident of Rasala village saw on the night of 16 January two bike borne individuals going into the nearby forest at about 2:30 AM, a day before the body of the victim was recovered from about the same area.

Singh thus egged the three investigating teams to investigate whether it was a possibility that some outsiders had committed the crime and were in turn pinning it on the villagers. The authorities though didn’t pay heed.

Ms. Arora also questioned why were there three investigative teams constituted to probe the matter, out of which she claims that the crime branch which filed the chargesheet, constituted of police officers from Kashmir rather than local Jammu. She claimed that out of these, two policemen had serious charges like custodial death, rape and destruction of evidence against them.

Coming to the angle of the crime allegedly being committed in Devisthaan, she claimed that the place holds religious significance for three villages and contains no place to hide someone. She also asserted that the place is cleaned everyday and there on three out of the six days (when it was believed that victim was confined there), villages had celebrated festivals like Lohri and Makar Sankranti.

She then proceeded to touch the point as to why would the accused throw the victim’s body right behind their house, which is near the Devisthaan as opposed to the forest which surrounds the area.

Coming to the matter of the postmortem report, she claimed that the report signed on 19th March was a copy of the 17th January report, where various aberrations were later added. She gave an example that the 17 January report stated that the victim’s intestines had food material while the latter doesn’t mention so. What adds to the mystery is the fact that the chargesheet claims that the victim was starved.

While being on the point of the chargesheet, she claimed that it was typed in English as opposed to the prevalent Urdu, and alleged that the lawyers were supplied the same after an extended delay.

With regards to the girl’s picture and identity being released in the media she questioned as to who committed the act of capturing a high resolution photo of her neatly dressed body when law states that revealing such details is a crime. The team as claimed had posed this question to the police official, who didn’t provide an answer.

Touching on the reports of one of the accused Vishal Jangotra, not being present in Kathua at the time of the crime, Ms. Arora too affirmed the same and claimed that all the families they interviewed, confirmed the absence of Vishal from 12th to 17th January. In another sensational revelation, she claimed that three friends of Vishal have said before a magistrate that they were tortured into giving statements against him.

Owing to the points raised above, she demanded that a free and fair probe needed to be conducted in the matter, and thus demanded a CBI inquiry.

Following the report’s submission, Jitendra Singh was quoted as saying that the report would be sent to the concerned court, where the trial in the matter will take place. Coming to the CBI inquiry, the minister claimed that CBI inquiry can only be referred to if a recommendation comes from the state government.

These points raised by the fact finding team come at a time when questions have already been raised over the investigation been carried out by the Jammu and Kashmir police, by the residents of Kathua, as has been detailed in a Swarajya ground report.

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