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Kathua rape-murder case: Life imprisonment for 3 convicts

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Kathua Rape Case Verdict

Three of the six convicted in the rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua were awarded life imprisonment by a special court in Pathankot today. The remaining three accused, all police personnel, were sentenced to five years imprisonment. The seventh accused, Vishal, was acquitted by the court.

The case – involving the kidnapping, rape and murder of the victim last January,had triggered protests and allegations that Muslim women are unsafe in Jammu and Kashmir as religious tensions increased across the country. After the lawyers in Kathua prevented the crime branch officials from filing the chargesheet in the case, the Supreme Court directed that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.

All of the men arrested accused in the rape case are Hindu, and Asifa’s nomadic people, the Bakarwals, are Muslim.

Charges of rape and murder were framed against seven of the eight accused in the case, with one of them pleading that he is a juvenile. The accused, if convicted, would face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment and a maximum of death penalty.

The case was handed over to the Crime Branch, following which a police sub-inspector and a head constable were arrested for destroying evidence. The main accused, retired revenue officer Sanji Ram, surrendered on March 20.

All the accused, barring the juvenile, were shifted to Gurdaspur jail on the orders of the top court.

Besides Sanji Ram, the others arrested in the case are his son Vishal, a “juvenile” nephew, his friend Anand Dutta and two special police officers identified as Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. The policemen accused of destroying evidence are Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta.

Investigations conducted by the Crime Branch suggested that the girl was raped and murdered allegedly by the accused in an effort to strike fear among nomads frequenting the Kathua area and drive them out.

The case also drove a wedge between the then BJP-Peoples Democratic Party alliance in the state after two BJP leaders – Chowdhury Lal Singh and Prakash Ganga – participated in a rally organised in support of the accused.

The Supreme Court ordered that the trial be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir after lawyers at the Kathua court prevented the Crime Branch from filing charges amid high drama on April 9. The prosecution team in the case comprise JK Chopra, SS Basra and Harminder Singh.

India

Sonia Gandhi, Son Rahul Return From US After Her Medical Check-Up: Reports

Sources had said her medical check-up was overdue and was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sonia Gandhi and Rahul

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi returned from abroad early today, sources said.

Mrs Gandhi, 73, had gone to the United States for her routine medical check-up on September 12, two days ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament. Rahul Gandhi had accompanied her during the visit.

Sources had said her medical check-up was overdue and was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sonia Gandhi had cleared the Congress’ organisational restructuring before leaving for the US.

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After military talks, India and China announce slew of decisions to bring down tensions in eastern Ladakh

The decisions were mentioned in a joint statement issued by the two armies late Tuesday, a day after the sixth round of Sino-India Corps commander-level talks that lasted for 14-hours.

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New Delhi: Announcing a slew of decisions to bring down tensions in eastern Ladakh, the Indian and Chinese army have decided to stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate the environment.

The decisions were mentioned in a joint statement issued by the two armies late Tuesday, a day after the sixth round of Sino-India Corps commander-level talks that lasted for 14-hours.

The two armies also agreed to strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments and earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries.

“The two sides had candid and in-depth exchange of views on stabilising the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas,” said the statement released by the Indian Army.

It said the two sides also agreed to take practical measures to properly solve problems on the ground, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

It said both sides also resolved to hold the 7th round of military commander talks as soon as possible.

“They agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments, stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation,” the statement said.

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Lok Sabha passes Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020

As per the Bill, Kashmiri will be the official language along with four other languages — Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English.

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Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 with voice vote, allowing Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, to be official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking on the Bill, Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said that it was a demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the languages they speak should be official languages of the UT.

Since 53.26 per cent of people in Jammu and Kashmir speak Kashmiri, there was a need to include it as the official language of the state, he said.

The minister added that people in Jammu and Kashmir speak as well as write Kashmiri, so there is no problem in including it as an official language.

As per the Bill, Kashmiri will be the official language along with four other languages — Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English.

Reddy said that 26.64 per cent of the people in the UT speak Dogri, while Urdu, which is currently an official language, is spoken only by 0.16 per cent the population.

The minister said while the government is not against any regional language, the Bill gives importance to those 70 per cent people who speak Kashmiri and Dogri in the UT.

For the last 70 years, Urdu has been the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that 2.36 per cent of the population in the UT speaks Hindi.

Opposing the Bill, Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference said the Central government did not have the legislative competence to frame a Bill in this regard.

He said it is not a fact that only 0.16 per cent of the population in J&K speaks Urdu which is a link language between the Jammu region and the Kashmir Valley.

Masoodi asked that if only 0.16 per cent people in the UT speak Urdu, why would the government include it as an official language. No other state has five official languages, he added.

Participating in the discussion, Union minister Jitendra Singh said that he was surprised as the National Conference is opposing the inclusion of Kashmiri as an official language because his party ruled in the region for almost 60 years on the name of “Kashmiriat”.

“You have exposed yourself in front of Kashmiris by going against the language,” he said.

The Bill was later passed by a voice vote with Masoodi as the only Opposition member who objected to the draft legislation.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah later said in a tweet that it was a momentous day for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “With this historic Bill…Long-awaited dream of the people of J&K comes true! Kahmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and English will now be the official languages of J&K.”

Under the Bill, Shah said that special efforts will be made for the development of major regional languages like Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi.

Along with this, the Bill will also strengthen the existing institutional structure for the promotion and development of regional languages.

Lauding the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his commitment towards restoring the culture of Jammu and Kashmir through this Bill, Shah said that he wants to assure his sisters and brothers in Jammu and Kashmir that the Modi government will leave no stone unturned to bring back the glory of the erstwhile state.

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