New Delhi: The verdict in the case of rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir will be delivered by a special court in Pathankot on Monday. In view of the pronouncement of the judgement, elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the court and in Kathua. The accused, if convicted, face minimum life imprisonment and maximum death penalty.

On June 3, when the in-camera trial in the case had ended, district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh had announced that the verdict was likely to be delivered on June 10. The prosecution team in the case comprised J K Chopra, S S Basra and Harminder Singh.

The eight-year-old girl was abducted on January 10 last year and allegedly held captive inside a temple in Rasana village of Hiranagar area. She was allegedly drugged and raped repeatedly before being murdered. Her body was found dumped in the adjoining forest area on January 17.

According to the 15-page charge sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the minor girl had gone missing while grazing horses. “The abduction, rape and killing of the Bakerwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area,” it added.

The case had become a bone of contention between the then ruling alliance partners PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the saffron party, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, backing the accused who were arrested by the state crime branch.

Village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, juvenile nephew and his friend Anand Dutta, and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma were arrested by the crime branch. Head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence, were also taken into custody.

Barring the juvenile, all the accused, were shifted to Gurdaspur jail following an intervention by the Supreme Court,  which also restricted appearance of the defence lawyers and limited it to one or maximum of two per accused.