Among several strands of hair found inside the Devasthan temple where the 8-year-old Muslim minor of Kathua was allegedly gang-raped, only one had a root, containing cellular material rich in DNA.
The single hair strand was sent by the police to a forensic laboratory in Delhi and it was established that it was the victim’s, Muzaffar Raina reported in The Telegraph while quoting police sources.
“We recovered several strands of hair inside the devasthan (prayer hall) in the presence of a magistrate,” a senior crime branch officer said.
“None of them had a root (which is rich in genetic material, unlike the shaft) expect one. We sent it to a forensic laboratory in Delhi and it was established that it was the victim’s. It proves the girl was held there.”
The families of the eight accused and the Hindu Ekta Manch, a group championing their cause, have dismissed the possibility that anyone could be held hostage and brutalised inside a “temple”.
He added: “We have a lot of oral evidence, which includes confessions by the accused, but this is a piece of scientific evidence we needed.”
Manch members have accused the police of bias and are continuing with their demand for a CBI probe.
“It’s impossible to hold someone captive and rape her for eight days in a temple which is always crowded and is situated in the middle of a street,” says a widely circulated social media post, headlined: “Why lawyers in Kathua are demanding a CBI probe”.
Prem Dogra, chief of the BJP’s Kathua chief, endorsed the logic. “How is it possible that nobody saw them there?” he asked.
According to the chargesheet, the girl was starved and sedated for five days under a table and wrapped in a mat inside the devasthan. Sanjhi Ram, the alleged mastermind, is the temple’s caretaker.
“Ram alone had the keys, and not several people, as they claim,” the officer said.
“There’s a difference between a temple and a devasthan, the later being a prayer hall built in memory of a sage by a family or a clan. It’s opened for prayers only on a few occasions, and only they (the accused) entered it during the days she was held there.”
He added: “Besides, it is located at an isolated place, away from habitations.”
The girl was abducted on January 10 and her body was found a week later. The local police investigated the matter before the crime branch took over.
Ram, the investigators say, paid a bribe of Rs 4 lakh to the policemen involved in the initial investigation to hush matters up and destroy crucial evidence, for instance, by washing the girl’s clothes. These cops are among the eight accused.
Initial investigations suggested that a purported minor, the first to be detained, had held the girl captive inside a cowshed. But the crime branch later said she had been detained at the devasthan.
As the trial began on Monday, seven of the accused pleaded not guilty before district and sessions judge Sanjay Gupta in Kathua and volunteered for a narco-analysis (truth serum) test, PTI reported. The next hearing is on April 28.
The eighth accused, the juvenile, moved a bail application before the chief judicial magistrate, who posted the matter for April 26.
In a narco-analysis test, the subject is injected with sodium pentothal or sodium amytal, the dose depending on the person’s sex, age, health and physical condition.
Such a test is not admissible as evidence unless a court has given permission to conduct it. The test helps as corroborative and not primary evidence, legal experts say.
As the trial began, Ram’s daughter Madhu Sharma protested outside, demanding a CBI probe.