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Kathua case: SC to hear witness pleas against police harassment

Claim they gave their statements to police under coercion

Agency Report | New Delhi | 14 May, 2018 | 11:40 PM

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea by three witnesses in the Kathua rape-murder case who accused the state police of harassment.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the plea would be heard on Wednesday.

The plea filed by witness Sahil Sharma and two others, who are college friends of accused Vishal Jangotra, said they had already got their statements recorded before the police and a magisterial court.

They complained that police was now asking them to re-appear and re-record their statements and also exerting pressure on their families.

In their statement before a Magistrate, they had said that they gave their statements to police under coercion.

On May 7, the apex court had transferred to Pathankot the trial in the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from a nomad family in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua because “fear and fair trial can’t exist together”.

The court had also ordered in-camera and day-to-day trial to ensure that witnesses felt protected and the accused felt safe.

The decision to transfer the trial from Kathua came on a plea by the victim’s father.

The girl went missing on January 10 when she was grazing horses close to her home in Rasana village near Kathua in Jammu region. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police, which investigated the case and has already filed a chargesheet, claimed that eight persons were involved in the crime, including two policemen, a juvenile, and a former Indian Revenue Service officer.