The Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday to respond to a plea filed by the father of the eight-year-old girl who was abducted, repeatedly raped and murdered in January in Kathua, ANI reported. The apex court asked the state government to provide security to the girl’s family and their lawyer.

The girl’s father had requested the court to have the case shifted from Jammu and Kashmir’s court of Chief Judicial Magistrate in Kathua to Chandigarh. Senior Counsel Indira Jaising, representing the girl’s father, said the situation in Jammu was not fit for a free and fair trial.

The rape and murder of the eight-year-old sparked statewide protests – and counter protests by the Hindu Ekta Manch against the arrest of the accused – with several groups demanding an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The chargesheet filed by the Crime Branch against the eight accused, including a juvenile, revealed sordid details of the crime.

The father’s petition had also asked the court to increase security at the juvenile home where the minor accused, one of the eight arrested, is being held. The petition also said that the lawyer representing the girl’s family in Kashmir had faced threats.

According to the plea, the family wants the case shifted out of the state because the Crime Branch and the local police faced severe resistance from lawyers while trying to file the chargesheet.

Accused plead not guilty

Meanwhile, the eight people accused of raping and killing the eight-year-old child told a sessions court they were not guilty of the crime and even asked the district and sessions judge for a narco analysis test, PTI reported.

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.