Kathua rape/murder case: SC asks J&K govt to protect victim's family, lawyer

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The eight men accused of abducting, drugging and raping an eight-year-old nomad girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua have pleaded "not guilty" in the trial that began on Monday. The court asked to undergo narco tests on the accused.

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to urgently hear a plea in the Kathua rape and murder case. The court has set the next hearing date as April 28.

"Be that as it may, we do not intend to enter into this sphere (transfer of case to CBI) at this stage", the bench said. It is believed that the accused list include four police officers and a retired government official, all of whom have sexually assaulted a minor girl and then murdered her in January this year. Reports suggest that the hearing in the matter are expected to run their natural course after the Supreme Court had sought explanations from the Bar Council of India, Jammu and Kashmir Bar Council, Jammu High Court Bar Association and Kathua District Bar Association over the lawyers causing obstruction in the case.

Another plea filed by Delhi-based lawyer Anuja Kapur, seeks transfer of the sensational gangrape case from Kathua trial court to a local court in the national capital.

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Among the accused in the Kathua rape murder case, there is a juvenile against whom a separate charge sheet was filed.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the submission of senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the victim's father, that his family, their lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat and their friend Talib Hussain, feared for their lives in a communally "polarised situation" at Kathua.

Immediately after the brief hearing in the sessions court, the seven accused were shifted back to jail under heavy security. She also added that she was pleased with the investigation by the police. "Sanji Ram, the caretaker of "Devisthan", a small temple in a village in Kathua, as the main conspirator behind the crime", chargesheet reads. Her crumpled body was recovered on January 17.

According to the charge sheet file by Jammu and Kashmir Police, the girl was kept under sedatives, hungry, brutally tortured, gang-raped multiple times, strangulated and bludgeoned with a boulder to death.

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