Family of the 8-year-old victim is seeking the shift amid alleged threats to themselves and their lawyers. Court directs state to provide police protection.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday sought the views of the Jammu and Kashmir government on transferring the trial in the case of the eight-year-old gang rape and murder victim from Kathua to Chandigarh. The state government is expected to reply before 27 April.

The court also directed the state to provide “adequate police protection” to the victim’s kin, the two advocates — Deepika Singh Rajawat and Talib Hussain — who are representing the victim’s family, and other witnesses in the case.

According to the police, in January, the eight-year-old from the minority Bakerwal nomadic community was allegedly held in captivity in a temple in Jammu’s Kathua district for over a week, put under sedation, raped, and later, killed.

Amid fear of threats to lawyers and the family of the victim, the father of the victim moved the apex court seeking to shift the trial to Chandigarh from Jammu.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the victim’s father, argued that “there are attempts being made at the highest levels to undo the good investigation done by the state police”.

“This is one of the best investigations I have seen. All DNA and visceral reports are in the chargesheet. Why is this demand to take the probe away from the police?” she asked.

Jaising was responding to Anuja Kapoor, an advocate who intervened in the case, seeking to hand over the probe to CBI.

Advocate Bhim Singh, leader of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, also sought to intervene in the case. Singh began to raise questions on the manner of investigation. However, the court refused to hear the intervenors at this stage.

Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Saturday said she would seek a fast-track 90-day trial in the case.

Meanwhile, the first stage of trial, where the judge examines the chargesheet and approves charges against the accused, began in Kathua Monday.

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