Srinagar: The trial on alleged gang-rape and murder of an 8-year-old nomad girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua began on Monday after the police produced all the eight accused in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of the district.

All pleaded not guilty and their counsel said that they were ready to undergo narco-tests. The judge A.S. Langeh postponed the hearing in the matter for April 28.

The victim was kidnapped on January 12, held captive in a local temple where she was allegedly drugged and gang raped before being brutally murdered.
The gory incident has evoked widespread outrage across the country though after a delay of three months with calls for awarding capital punishment to the culprits being made.

The accused include the custodian of the temple who is a retired government official, his son and four police officers and also a juvenile, against whom a separate charge sheet was filed by the Crime Branch of the J&K police in the court last week. The juvenile and the other accused will be facing separate trials. While seven of the accused will be tried in the Session’s Court, the CJM will hold the trial for the juvenile.

The Kashmir Valley and Kargil town in Ladakh on Monday witnessed a series of protests and candle-light rallies in support of the victim. The participants of these protests and rallies demanded capital punishment for the accused.

Earlier during the day the Supreme Court (SC) asked the State government to provide security to the family of the victim and their lawyer as well as family friends assisting them in the case.

The lawyer Deepika Singh had earlier claimed that she has been threatened by the president of Jammu High Court Bar Association BS Salathia for representing the victim’s family in the court.

The SC issued a notice to the State government seeking a reply on the plea of the father of the victim that the case currently being heard in a court in Kathua itself be transferred outside the state to ensure free trial. The next hearing on the plea to transfer case will be on April 27.

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