The defence lawyer of the Kathua rape and murder case has hit out at the only female member of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Jammu and Kashmir police probing the case, with seemingly sexist remarks and reportedly questioning her “intelligence” as a woman.
Representing five of the eight accused, Ankur Sharma told News18 that as a “woman and a new officer,” Shwetambri Sharma would have been “misguided by someone.”
"Shwetambri kya hai, ladki hai. Uska kitna hi dimaag hoga (What is Shwetambri, she is a girl, how intelligent can she be?). She is a new officer and by showing her a few circumstantial evidences, some people made her believe that the crime has been committed in this fashion." - Ankur Sharma, defence lawyer, to News18
Replying to Ankur Sharma’s misogynistic statement, Shwetambri has expressed her concern and has clarified that she was not misled at any given point during the investigation.
Speaking to News18, Shwetambari said, “I am really disheartened by the defence lawyer’s statements against me. He has disrespected a female, who is a sister, a mother. My seniors have faith in me and that’s why I am given this responsibility.”
“I was never misled at any time during the probe. Also, I never said I want to quit. In fact, despite problems, we stay put in the Kathua case.”
The defence lawyers remarks came in light of Shwetambri revealing to The Quint how hard it was for her to carry out the job.
"The people we believed were involved in the gruesome rape and murder of that 8-year-old angel, their relatives and sympathisers, including a multitude of the lawyers, left no stone unturned to disrupt our investigation. They went to the extreme of our humiliation and harassment. But we stood our ground firmly till the end." - Shwetambri Sharma to The Quint
In the meantime, Ankur Sharma also reportedly raised doubts about the probe carried out by the Crime Branch, claiming it had tortured the witnesses so as to get favourable statements.
"...These three friends of Vishal Jangotra (one of the accused) were continuously tortured by the police for close to 10-15 days and a confession was forced. But when they gave their statement under Section 164A of the CrPC in front of the judicial magistrate, they narrated a detailed scenario of how they were tortured." - Ankur Sharma to News18
According to the charge-sheet filed by the J&K police’s Crime Branch on 9 April, the eight-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by six men, who had held her in captivity in a small village in Kathua district district for a week in January.
The abduction, rape and killing of the Bakerwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, the 15-page charge-sheet further revealed.
(With inputs from News18)
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