Six of eight men accused of the rape, torture and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Indian-administered Kashmir have been found guilty in a specially convened fast-track court.
The victim, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was found in a forest near Kathua city in January 2018.
The case caught the attention of the world when Hindu right-wing groups and lawyers protested over the arrest of the eight men. All of them had pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
One of them – the son of one of those convicted – has been acquitted. The eight accused include a retired government official, four police officers and a minor, who will be tried separately in accordance with India’s juvenile act.
When delivering its verdict, the court said that the sentences of the six convicts would be announced at 14:00 local time (08:30 GMT).
The lawyer representing the accused said that despite the conviction, the case was based on “circumstantial evidence” and has pleaded for minimum punishment for the six men.
The child’s mother has demanded capital punishment for two of those convicted – a retired government officer Sanji Ram and police officer Deepak Khajuria – claiming that they were the “masterminds” behind the crime.
“This is a victory of constitutional spirit,” the lawyer representing the child’s family told BBC.
“The whole country fought this case, irrespective of religious affiliations.”