There were widespread protests across the country after the terrible incident

NEW DELHI:

The accused in the horrific rape and murder of an 8-year-old boy in Kathua who claimed to be a teenager will be tried as an adult, lawyers said today. Medical tests confirmed that the man was between 19 and 23 years old. Seven other men are charged in the case, which is being tried in an express court in Punjab’s Pathankot.

The court ordered the test after the defense appealed against his matriculation certificate, which was supposed to be treated as a minor. The investigation immediately looked for an age assessment test.

The child, abducted from her Rasana village in January, was drugged, starved and raped for a week before her head was struck with a stone. The details of the case sparked outrage across the country.

Police said the attack was an attempt to evict a nomadic Muslim community from Hindu-majority areas in Jammu.

In May, the Supreme Court accepted the family’s appeal to move the case to Pathankot after the matter sparked a backlash in the Jammu with a Hindu majority. Rallies were held to show support for the defendant, which was attended by some BJP ministers. They later had to resign.

Protests even took place on the premises of the Jammu Court. Lawyers banned entry to the police who had filed an indictment form.

Deepika Rajawat, the lawyer representing the child’s family, said she had faced threats from members of the Jammu and Kashmir Supreme Court Bar Association who wanted her to drop the case. The club denied the allegation.

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