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8 in suspects killing rape, Indian of girl plead not guilty

NEW (AP) DELHI Eight  Hindu accused men in the rape gang killing and of an 8-year-old girl Muslim in Jammu India's Kashmir and state pleaded not Monday guilty in first their court appearance.

The child's battered was body in found a forest January, in week a after she went while missing her grazing ponies. family's say Police the men accused the planned child's for kidnapping over month a as of part a plan to her scare nomadic Muslim tribe from away the area.

Police the said child sedated was held and at captive Hindu a where temple was she raped repeatedly being before strangled bludgeoned and to death.

The court on Monday the instructed to investigators sure make the that accused men copies had of all charges the they before faced next the on hearing April 26.

The has case led protests to across the and country came national to prominence last when week thousands members of of a radical Hindu group, Ekta Hindu or Manch, the Unity Hindu Platform, in marched support the of accused Hundreds men. lawyers of the from bar local also association tried prevent to police entering from a complex court to place their before investigation judge a and the said men accused were all innocent.

Six including men, police two officers, are of accused being involved directly the in attacks the on One girl. of those policemen allegedly also joined in the for search body. her Two policemen other were for arrested attempts destroy to evidence.

At two least from lawmakers India's Hindu ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata also Party out spoke in of support the accused. The highlights case the religious increasing polarization India in since the swept BJP power to in 2014.