According to the chargesheets, the abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the nomadic community from the area.
The eight people accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old girl pleaded not guilty and asked the judge for a narco analysis test as the trial into the case, which has become the focal point of outrage across the country, began on Monday.
Seven of the eight accused were produced before District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Gupta, who asked the state Crime Branch to give them copies of the chargesheet and fixed April 28 as the next date of hearing.
The eighth accused is a juvenile who moved a bail application before the chief judicial magistrate. The matter was posted for April 26.
The accused were presented before the court which was packed with lawyers and heavy posse of policemen.
The child from a minority nomadic community was allegedly held in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January this year during which she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death.
According to the chargesheets filed by the Crime Branch, the abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the nomadic community from the area. A separate chargesheet was filed for the juvenile.
The counsel for the accused demanded a copy of the chargesheet filed by the Crime Branch on April 9 before the chief judicial magistrate.
Later talking to reporters, Ankur Sharma, counsel for accused Sanjhi Ram, his son and others, said that the lawyers raised the issue with the judge for providing copies of chargesheets.
Another lawyer A K Sawahney, who is pleading the case of police constable Tilak Raj for destruction of evidence, said that while the chief minister was talking about fast-track trial, challan copies had not been provided to them till Monday.
Sanjhi Ram, the caretaker of the ‘devisthan’ (temple) in the village in Kathua, about 90 km from Jammu, is listed as the main conspirator behind the crime, told the judge that they wanted narco analysis test and were ready for it.
In a narco analysis test, the subject is injected with sodium pentothal or sodium amytal. The dose is dependent on the person’s sex, age, health and physical condition.
It does not have any legal sanctity as evidence until a court gives permission to conduct these tests. The test only helps as corroborative and not as primary evidence, say legal experts.
After a brief hearing in the sessions court during which the public prosecutor assured of handing over the chargesheet on Tuesday, the seven accused were shifted back to the jail under heavy security.
Special police officer Deepak Khajuria, who is alleged to have repeatedly raped the child, told reporters from the police van that he was also demanding a narco test, also known as the “truth test”, and a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.
As the trial began inside the court, main accused Sanjhi Ram’s daughter Madhu Sharma protested outside, demanding a CBI probe.
There was heavy police presence at the Kathua complex following the tension on April 9 when members of the local bar association did not allow the Crime Branch to submit its chargesheet in the case.
The chargesheet also names the investigating officers -- head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta -- who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.
A large number of people assembled on the road leading to the court, blocked it and held protests against a section of national media accusing it of “portraying” the demand for a CBI probe as pro-rapists and pro-culprits, thereby damaging the reputation of the entire village.