SC to hear plea for transfer of Kathua trial at noon

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The hearing in murder and rape case of an 8-year-old girl from Kathua started today, on April 16, at the Jammu and Kashmir Sessions court. In chilling revelations, the chargesheet said the eight-year-old girl, belonging to the Bakherwal community, was allegedly raped by six men, who had held her in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January.

The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Jammu and Kashmir government's response on a plea for transfering the trail of the Kathua rape and murder case to Chandigarh. The trial is expected to go smoothly after the Jammu Bar Association as well as the Kathua Bar received a rap on the kuckles by the Supreme Court on April 13 as the apex court took a strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the case. Now the matter is with the court.

It had said it is a settled law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused can not be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, for it is his duty to appear in support of his client.

Five people - Sanji Ram, the 60-year-old retired revenue official, who hatched the plan, the 19-year-old who is his nephew, the boy's friend Parvesh Kumar, Ram's son Vishal Jangotra, and special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar - have been named in the case.

The eighth accused is a juvenile who moved a bail application before the chief judicial magistrate.

The Court then issued notice to the State on the issue of transfer of trial, while directing the State to provide protection to victim's family, lawyer Deepika Rajawat and advocate Talib Hussain. In Kathua, policemen that were supposed to be investigating the case stand implicated, while a politician from the ruling BJP is the main accused in Unnao.

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District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Gupta asked the state Crime Branch to give copies of the charge sheet to the accused and set the next date of hearing as April 28. She had made a decision to inform the Supreme Court about the same.

"I don't know till when I will be alive".

Meanwhile, lawyers protested outside the Supreme Court over the conduct of lawyers in Jammu in connection with the same case. "I can be raped, my modesty can be outraged, I can be killed, I can be damaged", Rajawat, who flew down to Delhi Saturday, told the media here.

The Indian American Muslim Council, an advocacy group based in the United States, also released a statement on their Facebook page demanding a speedy trial and maximum punishment for the perpetrators in the gang rape and murder of Asifa Bano in January, as well as the rape of a 17-year-old Dalit girl at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

The eight-year-old girl from the Bakarwal tribe was abducted and sedated January, locked inside a temple and raped for nearly a week.

"As such, we have withdrawn our offer to contest the case free of cost".