J& K – The Kathua rape and murder case trial, which began in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, will see its next hearing on April 28. The case is related to eight people allegedly holding an eight-year-old girl captive in a small village temple in the state’s Kathua district for a week in January this year, sexually assaulting her, and then murdering her. The accused were ready to undergo narco tests, said their counsel. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will at 2 pm today hear the plea of the father of the Kathua rape victim to transfer the trial to Chandigarh. The Kathua rape case trials began a day after protests were staged in various parts of the country by citizens outraged by the heinous crime.
The accused in the Kathua case include a juvenile, against whom a separate charge sheet was filed. The juvenile and the other accused will be facing separate trials. While seven of the accused perpetrators will be tried in the sessions court, the chief judicial magistrate of Kathua will hold the trial for the juvenile. The accused include four police officers and a retired government official.
After the Jammu Bar association and the Kathua Bar received a rap on the knuckles by the Supreme Court on April 13, as the apex court took a strong note of certain lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the case, the Kathua trial is expected to be conducted smoothly.
However, the Supreme Court’s actions in the matter and the Indian civil society’s demand for justice in the Kathua case have not eased the challenges faced by the lawyer of the victim’s family. The Kathua rape victim’s lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat on Sunday said that she feared for her life as she might get raped or murdered. She added that she had been called anti-Hindu and boycotted socially.
The charge sheets filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s crime branch state that the abduction, rape, and killing of the minor Bakerwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy aimed at forcing the minority nomadic community out of the area.
Meanwhile, as the Kathua trial is set to begin, a group of former civil servants on Sunday issued a strongly worded open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, holding him responsible “more than anyone else” for the “terrifying state of affairs” in the country. The letter asked Modi to check India’s “free fall into anarchy” by taking tough action against the alleged perpetrators of the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and the perpetrators of other hate crimes across the country. Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers — Chandra Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh — have resigned following accusations of attending a rally in support of the alleged culprits of the crime.