8 accused, including juvenile, face trial in Kathua rape case

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asifaThe trial in the brutal gangrape and murder of an 8-year-old girl, who was allegedly sedated and sexually assaulted before being murdered in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, is slated to begin on April 16.

The eight accused had allegedly held the minor girl in captivity in a village temple in Kathua district.

Since the accused include a juvenile, the chief judicial magistrate (CJM)is expected to commit one of the chargesheets, naming seven of them, to the sessions court for trial. The trial for the juvenile will be held in the court of the CJM.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has appointed two special public prosecutors, both Sikhs, for the trial in the case, a move being seen as made to ensure “neutrality” in view of Hindu-Muslim polarisation over the case, media reports said.

Separately, a five-member committee of the Bar Council of India (BCI) will visit Kathua city in Jammu and Kashmir and submit a factual report on the case after seeking time from the Supreme Court on April 19. An announcement in this regard was made by BCI chief Manan Mishra on Sunday.

The fact-finding team will include former BCI chief Tarun Agarwal, BCI co-chairmen S Prabakaran and Ramachandra G Shah, and members Razia Beig of the Bar Council of Uttrakhand and Naresh Dikshit, an advocate, the report said.

The Jammu Bar association as well as the Kathua Bar have 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, the report said.

In a related development, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday accepted the resignations of two controversial BJP ministers Chandra Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh who had participated in a rally in support of the people arrested in connection with the recent rape and murder of Asifa.

The resignations of the two ministers were received from BJP state chief Sat Sharma this morning which were immediately accepted and forwarded to Governor NN Vohra for completing the procedural formalities, the J&K Chief Minister’s office was quoted as saying.

The Supreme Court initiated a case on its own record saying such impediment “affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice”, it added.