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The in-camera trial in the case ended on June 3, following which District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh announced that the verdict would be delivered today. Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place because of the high-profile nature of the case.
According to the charge-sheet, the girl, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was kidnapped and held captive at a village temple in Kathua district on January 10 last year. She was drugged, starved and repeatedly raped for days. She was finally strangled and her head was bashed in with a rock.
The child's mutilated body was found in a forest area on January 17. Three days later, one of the accused - reportedly a juvenile - was arrested by police. The trial in his case is yet to begin because a petition on determining his age is yet to be heard by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
Amid nationwide outrage over the savage killing of the child, the case was handed over to the Crime Branch, following which a police sub-inspector and a head constable were arrested for destroying evidence. The main accused, retired revenue officer Sanji Ram, surrendered on March 20 last year.
Besides Sanji Ram, the others arrested in the case are his son Vishal, a nephew whose age is being disputed, his friend Anand Dutta and two special police officers identified as Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. The policemen accused of destroying evidence are Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta.
The investigations of the Crime Branch suggested that the girl was raped and murdered in an effort to strike fear among nomads frequenting the Kathua area and drive them out.
The case also drove a wedge between the then BJP-Peoples Democratic Party alliance in the state after two BJP leaders - Chowdhury Lal Singh and Prakash Ganga - participated in a rally organised in support of the accused.
The Supreme Court ordered that the trial be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir after lawyers at the Kathua court prevented the Crime Branch from filing charges amid high drama on April 9. The prosecution team in the case comprises JK Chopra, SS Basra and Harminder Singh.
All the accused, barring the juvenile, were shifted to Gurdaspur jail on the orders of the top court. It also restricted the appearance of defence lawyers to one or a maximum of two per accused, and ordered day-to-day in-camera trial by the district and sessions judge at Pathankot.
Late last year, the family of the Kathua victim dropped their lawyer - Deepika Rajawat - accusing her of not making herself available for court hearings. Ms Rajawat, for her part, said she had been receiving death threats ever since she took up the case.