News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

'We are not guilty,' eight Kathua rape-accused tell court on first day of trial

The next hearing in the case has been set for April 28.

'We are not guilty,' eight Kathua rape-accused tell court on first day of trial
The incident has sparked public anger and protests across the country. (Picture: PTI)

The eight men accused of abducting, drugging and raping an eight-year-old nomad girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua have pleaded 'not guilty' in the trial that began on Monday. The accused also asked the judge asked the judge to order a narco analysis test.

The lawyers of the accused, one of whom is a juvenile, entered their plea and called for the narco tests, before telling the judge that the Jammu and Kashmir court had not provided them with copies of the chargesheet. The court was adjourned to allow for this routine procedure, and a further hearing has been set for April 28.

The 'no guilty' please in the case, which has sparked outrage and protests across the country, came even as the father of the victim moved the Supreme Court asking for the case to be transferred out of Jammu and Kashmir to prevent interference and ensure a fair trial. He had asked the top court to shift the trial to Chandigarh. He had also sought security cover in light of the charged atmosphere surrounding the case.

The victim's father also appealed to the Supreme Court to restrain politicians from meeting the juvenile accused in the case, and asked that status report be submitted before the Supreme Court as the case proceeds.

His lawyer, Deepika Singh Rajawat, had also claimed that she feared getting raped or killed following threats. She had decided to inform the Supreme Court about the same. The Supreme Court had subsequently ordered the Jammu and Kashmir Police to provide protection to Rajawat and to the girl's family.

An eight-year-old girl belonging to the nomadic community had gone missing on January 10 while grazing horses in Rasana forest in Kathua's Hiranagar area. Her body was found a week later. Police investigations revealed she was held captive inside a temple, sedated and repeatedly raped before her murder.