The Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday to provide police protection to the family members of the Kathua rape and murder victim and the counsels representing and helping them. The court also issued notice to the state on a petition filed by the victim’s father that says the atmosphere in Jammu is highly polarised for a fair trial and the accused must be tried in Chandigarh.The court had said on Friday that access to justice cannot be obstructed, after local lawyers tried to stop filing of the chargesheet in the case last week.Senior lawyer Indira Jaising, appearing for the victim’s father, told a Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the state police had done a good job in carrying out a scientific investigation and arresting all the eight accused. “All accused have been forensically and physically identified. This is the kind of investigation that they want to derail,” Jaising said.That Bench that also comprised Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud dismissed a separate plea that sought to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation for an independent probe. “If there was an issue with the investigation agency, we could consider transferring the case, but that is not the case here,” CJI Misra said.”We will only hear the plea with respect to victim protection and fair trial. Let us not go into other areas,” the court said. It will hear the matter next on April 27.Lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat told the court that she had been threatened with rape and death for taking up the case.The girl was abducted on January 10 in Jammu’s Kathua and killed four days later. Her crumpled body was recovered on January 17. Anger and shock have swept the country as details emerged last week of how the child was kidnapped, drugged, raped and brutally killed in captivity.A retired government official, his son, his juvenile nephew, the nephew’s friend and four policemen have been arrested so far the horrific crimes. Their trial began at the District and Sessions Court in Jammu’s Kathua on Monday.Two BJP ministers quit the J&K government on Friday after backing the Kathua accused. A BJP MLA was also arrested on the same day in Lucknow for raping a minor whose father died after being thrashed by his men. This was after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country was ashamed by the two cases and promised that no culprit will be spared.Four more cases of rape of minors were reported from Gujarat, Bihar and Odisha and protests and candlelight marches were held across cities on Sunday. Political slugfest over rape cases also continues.

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Kathua rape and murder: SC orders security to victim kin, puts J&K on notice on trial shift