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Hindu killers of Muslim child escape death penalty

26th Jul 2019
Hindu killers of Muslim child escape death penalty

Joint protests for the Kathua and Unnao rape case in New Delhi on April 15 2018
(Photo: Pulakit Singh/WikiCommons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Three Hindu men who brutally murdered an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Indian-controlled Kashmir have been spared the death penalty last month. Asifa Bano was held captive in a Hindu temple and gang-raped for a week before being strangled and battered to death with a stone.

Her savage murder in the Hindu-dominated southern Jammu region had sparked national outrage. Prosecutors had demanded Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Pravesh Kumar be executed but the men have instead been sentenced to 25 years in prison on June 25.

One of the killers, the Temple’s custodian, retired public servant Ram, conspired with police officers, a friend, his son and a nephew to kill the girl and destroy crucial evidence. Police officers Tilak Raj, Anand Dutta and Surender Verma were sentenced to five years in jail for destroying crucial evidence in the case.

A seventh man was acquitted, while an eighth person, who was underage, faces a separate trial. Bano, who is from a nomadic tribe, was grazing her family’s ponies in the forests of the Himalayan foothills when she was kidnapped on January 10, 2018.

The forensic examination revealed that Bano had been raped multiple times by different men and that she had been strangled to death, as well as bludgeoned in the head with a heavy rock. Her mutilated body was found in the woods on January 17, 2018.

The rape and murder known as the Kathua rape case made headlines across India and drew widespread international condemnation when the charges were filed on April 2018.
Opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir staged a walkout from the Legislative Assembly in protest of the incident.

Various protests have been held across Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.

Muslim activists condemned what they see as a crime against their community and some Hindu groups had argued that the accused had been unfairly charged. During the trial, prosecutors alleged that one of the men had ordered a fellow attacker to pause the murder, so he could rape the child one last time.

 

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