A court has sentenced three men, including a retired police officer, to life in prison for kidnapping, raping, and murdering an 8-year-old schoolgirl in India.

The Muslim girl, Asifa Bano, was drugged, held captive in a Hindu temple, and repeatedly sexually violated for a week before she was strangled and battered to death in January last year.

Her mutilated body was found dumped in a forest, and the case in Indian-controlled Kashmir exacerbated tensions throughout the country.

Prosecutors asked for the three attackers, identified as Sanjhl Ram, Parvesh Kumar, and Deepak Khajuria, to be executed, but the court ruled life imprisonment instead.

One of the men, Sanj Ram, is a retired public servant. He was the custodian of the Hindu temple, where the girl was assaulted.

Another three men were found guilty of destroying evidence and taking bribes from the sex offenders and are jailed for five years.

According to a police report, Ram intricately planned the rape and murder of the young girl. He then paid local officers 500,000 rupees (£4,500) to create false evidence.

The seventh man, Vishal Jangotra, was acquitted of all the charges. The eighth person, a minor, faces a separate trial.

Asifa Bano was allegedly abducted from her Muslim nomadic tribe. The girl grazed her family’s ponies in the Himalayan foothill forest before being held captive in a small Hindu temple.

She was sexually violated for five days before being battered around the head with a rock.

The girl had been drugged with anti-anxiety medication, repeatedly raped, burned, strangled, and bludgeoned with a rock.

The case triggered two days of protests and demonstrations in Jammu and across other Indian cities, including Mumbai, Bangalore, and New Delhi.

Jammu and Kashmir are the only Muslim-majority areas in India. But, the southern parts of Jammu, where the rape and murder took place, is Hindu-dominated.

The convicted men belonged to a local Hindu community involved in an ongoing land dispute with Muslim nomads in the area.

Ram had been a strong opponent against Muslim settlement in the region.

Muslim activists condemned what they said was a crime against their community, but the local Hindu groups argued the accused didn’t get a fair trial.

During the trial, it was found that one policeman allegedly demanded to rape the girl one last time before the murder was carried out, Al Jazeera reported.

Asifa’s death scratched open a long-festering children sex assaults wound in India, where the nation had been chiefly ignoring track records on children rape.

Crimes against women in the country rose by 8 percent to 3,168 cases in 2017 from 2,915 the previous year, according to a government report.

According to campaigners, the rise of social media, the traditional view of women’s role, and religious conflict are some of the contributing factors to the horrific child rape wave.

Last month, a 3-year-old girl was allegedly raped in a school bathroom, which erupted in violent protests in Kashmir.

The suspect, a neighbor of the victim’s family, lured the child into a toilet in a nearby school before sexually violating her.