How did the Kathua investigators get 130 witnesses, and why were they silent for 8 days?

Accused rape salma,kathua, investigation, charges heet, witnesses

If you are disturbed and agitated by the alleged rape and subsequent murder of an 8 year old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, you are absolutely right. You should be. It is only human to be enraged by the violence and the shamelessness shown by the accused in this case. The audacious criminals displayed their dark and ugly side on the innocent child, who was not even aware of the acts being committed on her body. And every human has the right to go up against the system which is trying to shield the accused and hide their faults under any pretext. What must happen at any cost is a fair investigation and subsequent trial of the case.

The Investigation team has filed a charge sheet, and some minor details in the charge sheet point towards some extraordinary findings in the investigation process. The mention of 130 plus witnesses who have apparently unequivocally corroborated the facts that emerged in the course of investigation is surprising. The cent per cent agreement of all the witnesses whose statements were recorded is an amazing feat to achieve in any case. And the Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch team has managed such a task with amazing ease.

Although the charge sheet does not explicitly mention the names of the witnesses, the majority of them should logically be from the small village itself or from the Bakarwal community of nomads, which seems unlikely since the total population of the village is barely more than 600 people.

The Patta Rasana village where the crime happened is a medium sized village located in the Hiranagar Tehsil of Kathua district. According to the 2011 census, a total of 112 families were residing in the village whose total population was 597. Add to it the population of the Bakarwal community and the total pool out of which 130 plus witnesses arose will most probably be around a thousand individuals.

How the investigating team managed to get a hundred and thirty plus people from the small village in Kathua district, who had all witnessed the crime happening, is highly surprising. The witness population is approximately 1/10th of the total population which might be residing in and around the village during the time of the incident.

But even if we accept that the testimony of the hundred and thirty plus witnesses are genuine and without some form of coercion, it is even more astonishing how they failed to raise any outcry during the 8 day period of the crime. No witness stood up, raised a cry or mentioned the suspicious movements of any of the 8 accused while this ordeal on the small girl lasted for more than a week.

Their silence and their subsequent willingness to corroborate further raise questions as to the way in which the statements of the witnesses were extracted by the team.

The latest bizarre coincidence is how the investigation team despite having so many witnesses later failed to extract the information from any of them beforehand. The primary source of information of the other accused including the main accused were given to the investigation team by the juvenile who was in their custody from the 19th of January 2018.

All these point towards a possible foul play in the way investigation has been carried out in the case till date. The Investigation team and its antics will have to be closely scrutinized in the case. Reading between the lines needs to be carried out to truly appreciate the case being presented before us.