One of the witnesses in the Kathua gang rape and murder case has been threatened by the accused, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said on Friday, 15 June, in an application before a court in Pathankot.
SSP (Crime Branch) Jammu, Ramesh Kumar Jalla in the application before the District and Sessions Court, which is hearing the case, alleged that the witness, whose statement was being recorded, was threatened by the accused, defence lawyer AK Sawhney told reporters outside the court.
However, the defence counsel objected to it and termed it as a "sensational application moved to hype the matter in media".
"It could be motivated by the prosecution or someone else... this all is being done to get Z-grade security," the defence lawyer said.
Also, District and Sessions Judge Tajwinder Singh ordered the superintendent of the Kathua Jail to ensure that the relatives can meet the accused in the prison immediately after reaching there and not need to wait.
The judge passed the order in response to an application moved by the lawyers of the family of one of the accused, Tilak Raj.
The defence counsel had said since the accused are moved from Kathua Jail to the court on daily basis and have to leave at around 9 am, their families are unable to meet them.
On a request of perjury by the defence counsel, the court asked the prosecution to again submit translated copies of statements of the case from Urdu to English to everybody.
Also, the statement of a witness was recorded, the counsel said.
An eight-year-old nomadic girl was gangraped and murdered in Kathua district in January.
The district and sessions court framed charges under various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code (applicable in Jammu and Kashmir). These include Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376-D (gangrape).
The court also framed charges for destruction of evidence and under section 328 (causing hurt by poisoning with an intent to hurt) of the RPC.
According to the chargesheet, the victim was held in captivity at a small village temple in Kathua district where she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before she was bludgeoned to death.
On 23 January, about a week after the body was discovered, the government handed over the case to the crime branch, which formed a Special Investigation Team.
The trial in the case began on 31 May with the seven accused being produced before the district and sessions judge after the Supreme Court transferred the case from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot for a fair trial following a plea by the victim's family.
While transferring the case from Kathua to Pathankot, about 30 km away, the apex court directed day-to-day in-camera trial in the case.
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