The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Jammu and Kashmir state government and sought a reply on Kathua rape and murder case plea filed by the victim’s father.The court asked the Mehbooba Mufti government whether the case should be transferred outside the state.The top court also directed the state government to provide police protection to the victim’s family and lawyers. The top court will hear the Kathua case on April 27.Earlier in the day, the father of the victim and the female lawyer representing the family had approached the top court.The father, in his plea, had sought to transfer the case outside Jammu and Kashmir. He had also said that he feared for the safety of his family.The female lawyer had also filed a plea in which she had said that she had been receving rape threats and sought CBI probe in the case. The top court’s order comes on a day when the District Court in Kathua began the trial in the gruesome gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old in the town near Jammu earlier in January this year. During the hearing, the eight people accused of raping and killing the minor girl today pleaded not guilty and asked the district and sessions judge for a narco test.District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Gupta asked the state Crime Branch to give copies of the chargesheet to the accused and fixed April 28 as the next date of hearing. While seven accused were presented before the district and sessions judge, the eighth is a juvenile who moved a bail application before a judicial magistrate. The child from a minority nomadic community was allegedly held in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January this year during which she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death. According to the chargesheets filed by the crime branch, the abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the nomadic community from the area. A separate chargesheet was filed for the juvenile.Sanji Ram, the caretaker of the ‘devisthan’ in a village in Kathua, about 90 km from Jammu, is listed as the main conspirator behind the crime. He was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, Ram’s nephew, a juvenile, and his son Vishal Jangotra alias “Shamma”.The chargesheet also names investigating officers head constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence. (With agency inputs)

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Kathua: Supreme Court seeks J&K’s reply on case transfer, asks Mehbooba Mufti govt to provide security to girl’s family