The alleged mastermind of the gruesome abduction, rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, Asifa in Kathua district of Jammu, is still evading arrest, at least even for necessary questioning.
According to the investigation conducted by Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Crime Branch (CB), the entire plan was initially conceived by Sanji Ram, a former revenue official of Rasana, Hiranagar.
Ram was bent upon to extricate the Bakerwal community from Rasana village, witnesses have revealed to the investigators of the case.
As per the CB investigation, the accused persons have also corroborated the involvement of Shanji in the act, which ultimately led to the crime.
According to sources, the report—which was submitted by CB before High Court on March 09, mentions that the custodial questioning of Shanji has become inevitable in view of evidence collected by SIT.
Reliable sources, however, said that alleged mastermind behind the crime was still evading detention.
Sources close to CB told Rising Kashmir that the manhunt has been already launched to nab Shanji.
“He has not been detained yet. Cops had gone to detain him but he was not present at home,” sources said, adding Sanji will be arrested as there was evidence against him.
Meanwhile, CB has received some reports from Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) while some are awaited. The post-mortem report of the deceased victim has also not been received yet by CB from district hospital Kathua. The SIT had asked the medical superintendent of district hospital Kathua twice for the post-mortem report of the minor victim, however, the said post-mortem report has not been made avaliblr to CB so far.
On January 10, Asifa was kidnapped near her home and body was recovered in the forest area of Rasana a week later.
So far CB has arrested six people including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Verma, Subam Sangra and Parvesh Kumar for their involvement in the horrific and brutal crime of minor nomad girl.
Top sources said the accused persons have revealed before the investigators about Sanji “masterminding” the entire crime. Sangra was the first to get arrested for the crime. He was initially said to be a juvenile, however, he was declared over 19-years-old by a board of five doctors at Government Medical College, Jammu after High Court had directed for ascertaining his age.
Few days ago, a Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, who was posted at Hiranagar police station and investigative officer of the case, and constable Tilak Raj Kumar were arrested after it was prima facie established that Raj had destroyed evidence. He had washed clothes of the victim that were soaked in blood and mud before sending them for forensic examination.
CB sleuths are also looking into the role of other officials in destroying evidence, sources said.
According to investigation, Sanji, in order to execute his nefarious design, hatched a conspiracy with Khajuria and Sangra for kidnapping and murder of the victim while Verma and Kumar were made part of the plan.
“The girl was raped and strangulated using a cloth. The cloth was seized but nothing was done to preserve the evidences which were collected from the crime scene,” sources said.
Sources said the investigations confirm that victim was drugged by the accused persons and raped. The drugs, source said, were bought by the arrested SPO Deepak Khajuria from a chemist, who has been also questioned by CB investigators.
They said the accused persons took the victim to Devsathan in the forest area of Rasana where she was confined for four days till 14th of January. Shanji is reportedly a custodian of Devsathan (public facility) at Rasana.
Sources said there were no multiple keys of the accommodation, where she was kept before being killed.
The only key is said to be in the possession of its custodian, they said.
The alleged mastermind was also seen actively taking part in protests by Hindu Ekta Munch (HeM)—the right-wing group that was formed after the crime took place. HEM has been protesting against the arrest of accused and demanding CBI probe into the crime. It has also got the support of two BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chandra Prakash Ganga. However, the PDP has refused to give in to the demands of HEM.