Tortured for statements, Kathua witnesses tell SC

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 17, 2018

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Jammu and Kashmir government to file a status report on Thursday in the Kathua gang rape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl after the State alleged that three college friends of an accused might have misled the probe.

The Counsel for the respondent said that these three students, who are witnesses, in this case, have made false statements and are apprehensive of being exposed now which has led to this claim of torture.

The SC bench, however, disagreed with the students' demand that further questioning should be video recorded.

The Court then passed an order allowing family members of the witnesses to accompany them till a reasonable visible distance at the time of recording of statements by the police.

The three witnesses asserted that they gave their statement to the police under coercion, in a statement before the magistrate.

The victim, from a minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village close to Kathua in the Jammu region on 10 January.

Lawyer Ravi Sharma, representing students Sahil Sharma, Sachin Sharma and Neeraj Sharma, sought urgent hearing on the plea alleging that they and their families were being coerced by the Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir police.

On May 7, the apex court transferred the trial from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot, Punjab. A week later her body was found in the area. The state police has filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district.

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