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Posted at: Apr 8, 2018, 12:38 AM; last updated: Apr 8, 2018, 12:38 AM (IST)

Kathua case: BJP questions ‘tainted’ officer’s role in probe

Says cop was arrested in 2007 for boy’s murder, alleged rape of a girl

Dinesh Manhotra

Tribune News Service

Jammu, April 7

Amid the demand for handing over the Kathua rape-murder case to the CBI, the ongoing probe into the incident got a new twist on Saturday when some political and social groups questioned the credentials of the Special Investigating Team (SIT) constituted by the Crime Branch of the J&K Police.

One of the members of the SIT had faced allegations of murder and rape in 2007 but was acquitted in 2011. People have questioned his role in the investigation into the case.

Not only opposition parties, but the ruling BJP has also questioned the involvement of a “tainted” officer in the investigation.

“It is really a matter of concern that one of the members of the SIT investigating the Kathua case had faced allegations of murder of a boy and rape of a girl,” BJP spokesperson Sunil Sethi told the media on Saturday morning.

“Irfan Wani, the then in charge of the Karara police post, was arrested in 2007 for the murder of a boy and alleged rape of a girl during illegal custody,” Sethi said, adding, “How can person of such a character and antecedents be associated with the present investigation? It is likely to raise doubts on the fairness of the investigation.”

In April 2007, the Prem Nagar and Thathri areas of Doda had witnessed protests after the death of a youth, Rishi Kumar, in police custody. The youth’s sister had levelled rape allegation on the then police post in charge, Irfan Wani. After protest by the people, a case of murder and rape was registered at that time.

“Irfan Wani had faced trial in a murder case, but not in a rape case. He was acquitted in 2011,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Crime Branch, Ramesh Jalla, who is heading the Crime Branch team which is investigating the Kathua case. “A five-member team is probing the case,” the SSP said.

Social activist Supreme Court advocate Ankur Sharma said the investigation into the highly sensitive case was under cloud after an officer, who was part of the probe team, had faced similar charges. “How can the police restore people’s faith when officers of such credentials are investigating the case?” he asked.

The eight-year-old girl was found dead in the Rasana forest of the Hiranagar area of Kathua district on January 17, a week after she went missing.

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