Six of them, including a former revenue official, two police officers and a minor, are accused of keeping the little girl sedated and without food in a small temple for days, raping her over and over and finally killing her. The girl's body was found in the forests on January 17, a week after she went missing from a spot where her horses were grazing.
A police chargesheet says the murder was carefully planned by the retired official, Sanji Ram, to drive the girl's nomadic Muslim community out of Kathua's Rasana village.
"Everything will be clear after Narco test," one of the accused was quoted by news agency ANI after the hearing.The father of the eight-year-old girl has requested the Supreme Court to transfer the trial out of Jammu and Kashmir, citing a "backlash" and lack of security for his family.
The accused men have found strong backing from local politicians and some groups, who have been demanding a CBI probe. The Jammu Bar Association, whose members also participated in these rallies, say they are not satisfied with the police investigation and want a CBI investigation.Two BJP ministers were forced to quit Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's cabinet for backing a rally in favour of the accused organised by a group called the Hindu Ekta Manch in March.
Chandra Prakash Ganga had allegedly termed the arrest as "jungle raj", Lal Singh had said: "Why such a hullabaloo on the death of this one girl... many such girls have died here".Their exit followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's sharp comments last Thursday. "I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice," PM Modi said at an event.
(with inputs from PTI)