Six men have been convicted over the 2018 gang rape and murder in India of an eight-year-old girl from a Muslim nomadic tribe that provoked horror and stoked inter-religious tensions.

The case sparked outrage and criticism of the country's ruling party after some of its members opposed charges being laid.

Sexual violence, including against children, is rife in India and outrage over the so-called Kathua case contributed to the government introducing the death penalty for child rapists.

According to the charge sheet, the girl was abducted while she was out grazing horses and taken to a village in the Kathua district of the northern Indian region of Jammu on 10 January last year.

In an ordeal lasting five days, she was sedated and held in a Hindu temple, repeatedly raped and then strangled and bludgeoned to death.

Investigations suggested that the girl was targeted in order to strike fear in her nomad community and drive them out of the area.

The six Hindu men are due to be sentenced later, prosecution lawyer Mubeen Farooqui told reporters outside a special court in Pathankot, in Punjab state.

They face the death penalty with a minimum of life imprisonment. A seventh man was acquitted while an eighth person, who claims to be underage, faces a separate trial.

"We will appeal against the convictions in a higher court," a defence lawyer said.

Among the three convicted for rape and murder were village head Sanjhi Ram and special police officer Deepak Khajuria.

Three others were found guilty of taking bribes and destroying evidence, but still face life imprisonment under strict conspiracy laws.

India has the death penalty for the most brutal murders and terror attacks. The last execution happened in 2015 over bombings in Mumbai in 1993.