The father of the eight-year-old nomadic girl, who was gangraped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua, welcomed the Monday judgement convicting six men in the case, but said his family was expecting that the culprits would be handed down death penalty. He also expressed unhappiness over the acquittal of the seventh accused.
The court sentenced three men including a temple caretaker to life imprisonment till last breath after convicting them along with three others for the ghastly crime that shook the nation 17 months ago.
"We were expecting that they (culprits) will be hanged for the heinous crime which they have committed with my daughter," Mohammad Akhtar, biological father of the minor, told PTI over phone from the upper reaches of Verinag in Anantnag district of South Kashmir.
The family is presently on bi-annual migration in search of greener pastures in the Valley.
Reacting to the judgement, he said they were surprised over the acquittal of one of the main accused, Vishal, by the court. "I have been hearing all along that he is one of the main culprits, then why was he released," he asked.
However, he quickly added that it was the "will of God and what can we do". On the fast track trial of the case, he said, "We were earlier told that we will get justice within 90 days.
"After waiting for all these months, we were hoping that the culprits behind the incident will meet the same fate (death)... We welcome the judgement but are not unable to come to terms with one of the accused being set free."
Sanji Ram, the mastermind and caretaker of the 'devasthanam' (temple) where the crime took place in January last year, Deepak Khajuria, a Special Police Officer, and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian--the three main accused--were spared death penalty, a punishment sought by the prosecution during the year-long in-camera trial in the court of judge Tejwinder Singh here.
Three others were given five years imprisonment for destruction of evidence.
The court acquitted the seventh accused Vishal Jangotra, son of Sanji Ram, giving him the 'benefit of doubt'.