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She’s a woman, how intelligent can she be? Kathua defence lawyer on probe officer

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New Delhi: Amid nationwide outrage over the recent cases of crime against women, a statement by a lawyer proves exactly why situation in the country is not going to change soon.

Exposing a narrow mind set towards women, the defence counsel in the Kathua rape case said the investigation into the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl was led by a woman officer and it was beyond her “intelligence” to work on the case.

According to a report in News18, Jammu-based advocate, Ankur Sharma who is appearing for five out of the eight accused in the case, said since Shwetambri Sharma is a “woman and a new officer, she was misguided by someone”.

The statement came after several reports emerged in the media discussing about the hurdles Shwetambri Sharma, the lone woman officer in the Special Investigative Team (SIT) of the Crime Branch, faced while probing the case.

Stooping to a new low, the defence counsel on Tuesday said, “Shwetambri kya hai, ladki hai. Uska kitna hi dimaag hoga (What is Shwetambri, she is a girl, how intelligent can she be?) She is a new officer and by showing her a few circumstantial evidences, some people made her believe that the crime has been committed in this fashion.”

Ankur Sharma further added that the police officers and bureaucrats are just “mere puppets”.

“If she faced so many hurdles, why didn’t she inform her superiors about it?” he asked.

He also claimed that the entire investigation by the Crime Branch was botched up and witnesses were tortured to extract favourable statements.

“All witnesses examined by the Crime Branch have stated that they were tortured by the police and were always told what to say and what not to say. Around 40 to 50 people have said that they have been tortured by the crime branch to give favourable statements,” Ankur said.

Further explaining his stand that witnesses were tortured, Ankur said initial version of the Crime Branch stated that one of the accused Vishal Jangotra, who was in Meerut along with his friends, had given his phone to three of his friends so that the tower location could not be detected. The Crime Branch had said that these friends would mark Vishal’s attendance in college while he was in Kathua, taking part in the rape and murder.

“These three friends of Jangotra were continuously tortured by the police for close to 10-15 days and a confession was forced. But when they gave their statement under Section 164A of the Criminal Procedure Code in front of the judicial magistrate, they narrated a detailed scenario of how they were tortured. They also said that Vishal was in Meerut appearing for his examinations. The students said that they were together even during Lohri. They also gave details of an ATM they visited so that the CCTV footage from there can establish that Vishal was not in Kathua. This all was stated in front of the magistrate,” said Sharma.

Meanwhile, Ankur Sharma has rubbished the report and said, “Phone conversation has been distorted. How can I question an officer’s competence? I had said that I’ve right to question her statements, if at all she issues one in public.”

The eight-year-old victim went missing on January 10 from near her residence in Rasana village of Hiranagar in Jammu’s Kathua district. After the police failed to recover her amid allegations of kidnapping, which rattled a session of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, she was found dead a week later.

The 15-page chargesheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the chief judicial magistrate’s court revealed that the kidnapping, rape and killing of the minor girl was part of a planned, chilling strategy to instill fear and drive the nomadic tribe out of the region.

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