Home International News Indian court moves rape and murder trial of girl out of Kashmir

Indian court moves rape and murder trial of girl out of Kashmir

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The victim's relatives said they feared retribution if they pursued her case in the small town of Kathua, near where the girl was killed.

Deepika Singh Rajawat, lawyer of Kathua rape case victim, talks to media after filling a petition in the Supreme Court in New Delhi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Supreme Court on Monday
ordered the trial of eight men accused of the rape and murder of
an eight-year-old girl to be moved to another state after her
family and lawyer said they faced death threats.

The girl, from a nomadic Muslim community that roams the
forests of Indian Kashmir, was drugged, held captive in a Hindu
temple and sexually assaulted for a week before being strangled
and battered to death with a stone in January.

Her case caused a wave of revulsion around the country but
also exposed communal divisions after two former ministers of
the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party joined a rally in support of
the eight accused, saying they were innocent.

All of the accused are Hindus. One is a retired local
government official and two are police officers.

The victim’s relatives said they feared retribution if they
pursued her case in the small town of Kathua, near where the
girl was killed.

A bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Dipak
Misra said the trial would be held in Pathankot in the
neighbouring state of Punjab, and in camera, so that witnesses
could be assured of protection.

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“We are transferring the case to Pathankot from Kathua for a
fair trial,” the court said in its order. The case will be heard
daily so that an early verdict can be reached, in a country
where such cases can run for years, or even decades.

India introduced the death penalty for rapists of girls
below the age of 12 last month in response to the outrage over
the gang rape of the girl in Kathua. The law does not apply
retrospectively.

ALSO READ: Eight go on trial for rape of eight-year-old girl

The Kathua case reignited memories of the similarly brutal
gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus in 2012 who later died of
her injuries.

The 2012 case also led to the toughening of laws to deter
crimes against women, but a rape epidemic shows no sign of dying
down in part because investigation of such crimes is still
inadequate and convictions rare. Often the accused are powerful.

“The basic concern is fair trial, basic concern is speedy
trial. That is the reason the court said there will be
day-to-day hearing,” said Deepika Singh Rajawat, lawyer for the
girl’s family, who cannot be identified under Indian law.

Rajawat had said she herself faced the risk of personal
attack for taking up the case of the girl. 

– Reuters