Kathua, April 13 (PTI) The grief-stricken family of the eight-year-old girl, who was brutally raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district, has set off on their annual journey to the pasture lands deep in the hills of the state, with the hope that justice will be done in the case.

The family, belonging to the Bakerwal community, quietly packed their bags, saddled their horses and set off on the arduous journey to the higher hills a few days ago, the police said.

“They do it every summer. They have not abandoned the hamlet. Neither they fled nor they were forced out,” SSP Kathua Suleman Choudhary told PTI.

He rubbished media reports that the grieving family had abandoned the hamlet.

“The incident left the girl’s parents and her two brothers devastated… The family followed the probe closely. They left the hamlet a few days ago, with the hope that the culprits would be punished and justice done,” one of their relatives said.

The girl loved her horses and grazed them in the meadows. The family never imagined this would happen to them, the relative said.

“When she went missing, we scoured the entire region, searched each home in the village and the forest belt. When we could not locate her, we approached the police.

“Sniffer dogs were deployed and after a few days, her lifeless body was recovered from the forest,” he said.

The relative alleged that the residents of the hamlet “did not allow us to bury the body in the area”. The family had good relations with the local residents, but “we were not allowed to bury her in the area”, he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.