Eight Hindu men accused of raping and killing an 8-year-old girl in January appeared in an Indian court for the first time Monday.
The body of an eight-year-old girl from a Muslim nomad tribe in a Hindu dominated region of Indian Kashmir was found in January, sparking national outrage and protests across the country this weekend.
Police said the girl had been drugged and held captive at a Hindu temple where she was raped repeatedly before being bludgeoned to death.
All eight accused, which include four police officers, pleaded not guilty on Monday. They will appear in court again later this month.
The case came to attention after lawyers shouting Hindu nationalist slogans tried to block police from filing charges in court against eight accused men, all Hindus.
Among those who had protested their detention were two ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the local Kashmir government.
The two ministers have since resigned after facing accusations of obstructing justice, the Supreme Court has demanded answers from the lawyers for their conduct and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to ensure justice for the accused.