India child gang rape trial moved out of of Kashmir

Kashmiri law students hold placards during a protest calling for justice following the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, in Srinagar on 18 April, 2018 Image copyright AFP

India's top court has ruled that the trial of eight men accused of the rape, torture and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl must be moved out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The victim's family had petitioned the court, asking for the trial to be moved out of the state. It will now be heard in the northern state of Punjab.

The case made headlines in India after right-wing groups and lawyers protested over the arrest of the eight Hindu men.

All of them have pleaded not guilty.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court directed that the trial would begin afresh on 9 July at a court in Pathankot, and would be heard on a daily basis. It added that the proceedings would be conducted in camera.

The victim's parents had said that they felt "threatened" in Kathua, where the community is predominantly Hindu.

A petition filed on behalf of the accused asking for a federal inquiry into the case was also turned down by the court.

The body of the victim, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was found in a forest on 17 January near Kathua city in Indian-administered Kashmir.

A retired government official, four police officers and a minor are among the accused.

Outrage grew after two ministers from India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attended a rally in support of the accused men. Details of the injuries inflicted on the minor victim have also horrified many Indians.

The minor will be tried separately in accordance with India's juvenile act.

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