Kathua rape: Ensure justice, UN to govt; BJP-PDP alliance under threat?

Finally breaking his silence on the rape-murder of an 8-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and the Unnao rape case in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday promised justice. “The incidents that are in discussion in the country for the last two days do not reflect good for any civilised country. This is shameful,” Modi said after widespread outrage over the incidents in Kathua and Unnao. Modi’s comments came hours after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) got into the act by detaining and questioning rape accused BJP MLA Kuldip Singh Sengar in Uttar Pradesh.

“It’s an insult to freedom fighters who gave their lives for the independence of this country. We are all ashamed as a society, as a country,” Modi said, speaking at the inauguration of the Ambedkar National Memorial. Right after his statement, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Dear Prime Minister, Thank you for breaking your long silence. You said ‘our daughters will get justice’. India wants to know: when?” Two BJP ministers — Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga — who attended a rally in support of the Kathua accused last month resigned from the J&K government led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. They had sparked overwhelming public outcry after attending a rally in Hiranagar area of Kathua district organised by the Hindu Ekta Munch in favour of the seven people accused in the rape and murder of the minor. In New Delhi, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi admitted that the two BJP ministers in Jammu and Kashmir had committed a wrong by taking part in the rally. She, however, said they were “misled and misguided” by people and accused the Congress of communalising the rape incidents.

Here’s what happened according to Kathua gang rape and murder charge sheet: The eight-year-old girl had been missing in Rasana village since January 10. On January 17, her mutilated body was found, bearing the marks of gang rape. This week, local lawyers tried to prevent the police from filing the charge sheet, and the Jammu High Court Bar Association called for a bandh on Wednesday demanding that the investigation be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The charge sheet lists as the main conspirator the caretaker of the temple in Rasana where the child was allegedly held. The girl was gang-raped repeatedly inside a village temple and kept sedated for hours before being killed by six men, including one who had been “invited” to come all the way from Meerut to “satisfy his lust”, the police have told a court. The kidnapping, rape and killing of the girl of the Bakherwal community at the Rassana area of Kathua was part of a planned, chilling strategy to instil fear and drive the nomadic tribe out of the region, reveals the 15-page charge-sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the chief judicial magistrate’s court.

Top 10 developments on Kathua gang-rape and murder case

1. Mehbooba to ask for fast track court in Kathua rape:Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will request state High Court Chief Justice Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar for the establishment of special fast track court for Kathua Rape case, said sources on Saturday. This special fast track court, which would be the first in the state is expected to complete the trial in ninety days. She also called for exemplary punishment for those responsible for the crime.

2. United Nations wants Modi government to take action: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Friday that he has seen reports about the “horrific case” of the abuse and murder of the nomadic Bakerwal community girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua.

“We very much hope that the authorities will bring the perpetrators to justice so they can be held accountable for the murder of this young girl,” he said.

3. PDP calls meeting today: The PDP leadership will meet on Saturday in Srinagar to discuss the situation, a party spokesman said on Friday. “A meeting of senior party leaders is being held on Saturday and important issues relating to political, party and administration in J&K will be discussed,” PDP chief spokesman Rafi Ahmed Mir said.

The leaders may also discuss the emerging situation in Jammu, he said.

4. Jammu Bar Association seeks compensation for Kathua victim’s family: The Jammu Bar Association on Saturday sought compensation and security for the Kathua rape and murder victim’s family. Association President B S Slathia also called for a candlelight vigil here on Saturday evening to press for justice and demand exemplary punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous crime. Earlier, lawyers of the Jammu and Kathua Bar Associations tried preventing a woman lawyer from appearing for the victim’s family.

5. Mehbooba Mufti lauds people for dismissing communal forces: J&K CM Mufti lauded the the people of Jammu for dismissing communal forces and their unwavering support for justice to the child who was brutally raped and murdered.

“I commend the manner in which the people of Jammu dismissed communal forces and were unwavering in their support for a little girl. “It has strengthened my belief that Jammu serves as a model of inclusiveness and together the people of J-K inspire secular unity and righteousness,” Mufti said in a tweet.

6. Two BJP ministers quit in J&K: Under fire from opponents and protests from Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, BJP on Friday secured the resignations of two of its ministers — Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga — from the coalition government for participating in protests in favour of the accused in the Kathua gang-rape and murder case. J&K BJP chief Sat Sharma confirmed that the two ministers had put in their papers. Lal Singh was the forest minister, while Ganga held the charge of the industry and commerce departments.

7. PM Modi says criminals will not be spared: Finally breaking his silence over the Kathua and Unnao gang-rape cases, Prime Minister Modi on Friday said that criminals will not be spared.

While Modi didn’t actually mention the crimes in Kathua and Unnao in his speech, his comments suggested that he was referring to these incidents. “I want to assure the nation that no criminal will be spared. Justice will be done. Our daughters will get justice. And, that such happenings shake our sensibilities,” the prime minister said, a day after Congress President Rahul Gandhi led a march of party workers to India Gate to protest Modi’s silence on the two rape cases.

8. Ram Madhav claims Congress behind agitation in Jammu: BJP leader and party in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav accused the Congress of being behind the agitations in Jammu. “We actually acted very fast, the state government and police acted swiftly. The Congress is trying to politicise the issue. I am accusing the Congress of being behind the agitations in Jammu,” he said.

9. Crime branch did a good job, says DGP: Jammu and Kashmir Police chief S P Vaid on Friday said the crime branch probing the rape and murder in Kathua district ‘has done a commendable job’.

The DGP’s remarks came a day after he said the police had no objection to a CBI probe into the case.

“The crime branch has done a commendable job in investigating the unfortunate rape and murder of the girl. They are very competent,” Singh told reporters.

The Bar Association of Jammu had on Thursday claimed that the crime branch probe was done on ‘questionable lines’ amid threats and coercion by a team of officers from the Kashmir Valley.

10. ‘India wants to know when’, tweets Rahul after Modi assurance: Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Friday “India wants to know” when its daughters will get justice as he ‘thanked’ Prime Minister Modi for breaking his “long silence” on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.

“Dear Prime Minister, Thank you for breaking your long silence. You said ‘our daughters will get justice’. India wants to know: when?” Gandhi tweeted.

Gandhi’s tweet came soon after Modi said at an event in Delhi that he wants to “assure the nation that no criminal will be spared” and justice will be delivered to its daughters.
Earlier, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Modi has done “too little, too late” over the two rape cases, but he said his party hoped the prime minister would now initiate tangible steps to provide justice to the victims.

BJP MP who blamed Pakistan for Kathua rape cries foul: A day after blaming Pakistan for the Kathua rape incident, BJP MP Nandkumar Singh Chauhan said that his statement was not reported properly. Talking to media, Chauhan clarified that he had said that it was Pakistani infiltrators who were involved in raising “Jai Shri Ram” slogan and no Hindu can do this after committing such a heinous crime.

“Only half of my statement was reported. She was a daughter of the nation. I only said I suspect that Pakistani infiltrators were involved in raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans as no Hindu group can do this after raping and killing a minor girl,” he said.

Girl’s family leaves for higher hills: The grief-stricken family of the eight-year-old girl, who was brutally raped and murdered in Kathua district, has set off on their annual journey to the pasture lands deep in the hills of the state, with the hope that justice will be done in the case.

The family, belonging to the Bakerwal community, quietly packed their bags, saddled their horses and set off on the arduous journey to the higher hills a few days ago, the police said. “They do it every summer. They have not abandoned the hamlet. Neither they fled nor they were forced out,” SSP Kathua Suleman Choudhary said.

He rubbished media reports that the grieving family had abandoned the hamlet.

AAP slams Lekhi for defending BJP ministers who supported Kathua rape accused: AAP spokesperson Atishi Marlena said the BJP, which is in power at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, where the incidents of rape have taken place, must promptly take action in the cases and ensure that steps are taken to make Dalits, minorities and women feel safe.

“Statements by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi reflects the insensitivity and arrogance of the BJP,” Marlena said. On Friday, when Lekhi was asked whether the BJP would take action against the two ministers, she defended them saying they were “misled and misguided”.

“The lesson for them is to allow the law to take its own course before opening your mouth,” Lekhi said. She also claimed the two incidents were “selectively” highlighted to target the BJP.

BJP’s women leaders mum due to fear of dictator, says Congress: The women leaders of the BJP are keeping mum on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases due to the “fear of the dictator”, alleged the Congress.

All India Mahila Congress president and party spokesperson Sushmita Dev said BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi brought “disgrace to the nation” with her remarks that the two incidents were being selectively highlighted.

SC warns lawyers: As the outrage over the Kathua rape case continued, the Supreme Court stepped in to warn the lawyers in Jammu that they cannot obstruct the process of law. The top court took umbrage against the lawyers body of Kathua and Jammu for obstructing the way of the counsel of the victim’s family in the trial court, saying that advocates’ bodies have a solemn duty to not obstruct members of legal fraternity representing the parties.

The apex court said, “It is the duty of the Bar Association as a collective body and they cannot obstruct the process of law.”

“If a lawyer who is engaged, is obstructed from appearing in the court or if his client is deprived of being represented in the court when he is entitled to do so in a lawful manner, that affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice and interference with the administration of justice,” the Bench said in its order.