Kathua case: SC asks J-K govt to protect victim’s kin, lawyer; Rape accused plead not guilty, ask for narco test

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New Delhi, April 16 (PTI): Supreme Court on Monday directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to provide security to the family members of the eight-year-old girl, who was brutally gangraped and murdered at Kathua in the state, along with their lawyer and a friend assisting them in pursuing the case.

On the other hand, the eight people accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old pleaded not guilty and asked the judge for a narco analysis test as the trial into the case, which has become the focal point of outrage across the country, began here on Monday.

The top court also took note of the victim’s father’s plea seeking transfer of the trial of the case from Kathua, preferably to Chandigarh, and sought the state government’s response.

The minor girl was allegedly held in captivity in a small village temple in the Kathua district of Jammu region by the eight accused for a week, during which she was kept sedated and raped several times before being beaten to death.

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.

“As an interim measure, it is directed that the Jammu and Kashmir government will beef up security to the family and others and provide security to them,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

The court made clear that it would “go by the concept of fair trial and victim protection” and said that ordinarily, it was the duty of police to probe a case.

On the other hand, the eight people accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old pleaded not guilty and asked the judge for a narco analysis test as the trial into the case, which has become the focal point of outrage across the country, began here on Monday.

Seven of the eight accused were produced before District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Gupta, who asked the state Crime Branch to give them copies of the chargesheet and fixed April 28 as the next date of hearing. The eighth accused is a juvenile who moved a bail application before the chief judicial magistrate. The matter was posted for April 26.

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