8 suspects in rape, killing of Indian girl plead not guilty

April 16, 2018, 10:14 pm
By : The Associated Press
 
New Delhi , April 16 : A police vehicle carrying the accused in the gang rape and killing of an 8-year-old Muslim girl arrives at the District and Sessions court in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, India, Monday, April 16, 2018. Eight Hindu men accused in the case have pleaded not guilty in their first court appearance. Monday’s court appearance comes as angry protests over the case have spread across the country. 
Eight Hindu men accused in the gang rape and killing of an 8-year-old Muslim girl in India's Jammu and Kashmir state pleaded not guilty Monday in their first court appearance.
 
The child's battered body was found in a forest in January, a week after she went missing while grazing her family's ponies. Police say the accused men planned the child's kidnapping for over a month as part of a plan to scare her Muslim nomadic tribe away from the area.
 
Police said the child was sedated and held captive at a Hindu temple where she was repeatedly raped before being strangled and bludgeoned to death.
 
The case has led to protests across the country and came to national prominence last week when thousands of members of a Hindu radical group, Hindu Ekta Manch, or the Hindu Unity Platform, marched in support of the accused men. Hundreds of lawyers from the local bar association also tried to prevent police from entering a court complex to place their investigation before a judge and said the accused men were all innocent.
 
Six men, including two police officers, are accused of being directly involved in the attacks on the girl. One of those policemen also allegedly joined in the search for her body. Two other policemen were arrested for attempts to destroy evidence.
 
At least two lawmakers from India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party also spoke out in support of the accused. The case highlights the increasing religious polarization in India since the BJP swept to power in 2014. 
 
Photo : AP
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