The man accused of murdering 24-year-old Sarah Groves in Kashmir six-and-a-half years ago has a "strong case" to be freed before the trial reaches a conclusion as a result of a constitutional crisis.
Kashmir is currently under total lockdown and its leaders under house arrest after the Indian Government under Narendra Modi announced that the state's special status within India would be revoked.
The court hearing scheduled for today was cancelled and tomorrow's is highly unlikely to proceed.
As a result of the abolition of Articles 370 and 35A the State of Jammu & Kashmir will cease to exist in its present form and it will become a fully integrated Union Territory of India.
A conflict over who has control over the Kashmir region has been ensuing between India and Pakistan since 1947 when India was partitioned. Pakistan have accused India's recent actions resulting in the dissolution of the state as illegal. Navendra Modi who was elected in 2014 included the abolition of articles 370 and 35A in his election manifesto.
You can read more about the ongoing constitutional crisis here.
Pictured: The Kashmir region and its bordering countries.
Vic Groves, Sarah's father, said although some further unrest was expected this latest development in The State of Jammu & Kashmir (which no longer exists) vs Richard de Wit, cannot be underestimated.
"It’s a big curveball. We already had a kind of forewarning Kate [Sarah's mother] picked up on the wire that there was something but we didn’t quite think about how significant it would be.
“It’s been building up because in 2018 the State Parliament collapsed, they hadn’t been able to form a government since then, it then went up to Presidential rule and it’s been moving in that direction ever since.
Pictured: Sarah Groves' parents have been left on the outside looking in ever since the trial in Kashmir commenced.
“The question I’m trying to get answered now is how does this affect the trial. We’ve had this problem, there’s been so many changes in the UK itself, this is the third Foreign Minister we’ve got in Dominic Raab, the chap who was in charge of the region has been replaced and we’ve got Brexit to contend with," he said.
"It is a constitutional crisis because of Pakistan declaring that India’s actions are illegal, as far as what it means for us, heaven only knows," said Kate.
Richard de Wit has been the sole suspect accused of murdering 24-year-old Sarah on a houseboat in Kashmir which belonged to the family of her boyfriend at the time. This was meant to be the 165th court hearing over a six-and-a-half year trial which has seen countless setbacks.
Pictured: Sarah Groves, who died in 2013.
The family, who have been in contact with Mr de Wit in the past and had concerns for his wellbeing as a result of the ramshackle trial, said they could even see a possibility that the man could be released before proceedings conclude.
"It’s a concerning situation," said Mr Groves.
"I don’t think they’ll just throw him out but on the other hand unless they can keep this trial going, under human rights laws he’d have a strong case for being released. We are totally in the unknown at the moment, this was supposed to be hearing 165, we have very fundamental concerns.
“To reach a conclusion like this it’s almost as if it’s been a waste of time – the trial has been fated from the start,” he said.
More as the story develops.
Pictured top: Sarah's parents Kate and Vic Groves.
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