Rape, murder of 8-yr-old girl polarises Jammu and Kashmir

Rape, murder of 8-yr-old girl polarises Jammu and Kashmir

Rape, murder of 8-yr-old girl polarises Jammu and Kashmir

The brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua district last month is snowballing into a major controversy, with the incident assuming a communal colour in highly polarised Jammu and Kashmir regions.

The victim had been abducted on January 10 when she had taken a mule owned by her family to a nearby pond in Rasana, Hiranagar area of Kathua district in Jammu division.

Her disfigured body was recovered seven days later on the outskirts of Rasana village.

After widespread protests, with the Opposition parties and civil society accusing the authorities of not making efforts to find her after her abduction, police formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the incident.

The SIT arrested two special police officers (SPOs) and a juvenile after it got clinching evidence about their involvement in the case.

The arrest soon assumed a communal colour. BJP MLA of the area Deepak Sharma visited Rassana later and held deliberations with people from just one community.

Activists of Hindu Ekta Manch, a fringe rightwing group connected to the BJP, took out a protest rally, with the tricolour in Hiranagar on February 16, in support of the rapists and murderers.

The group is headed by state BJP secretary Vijay Sharma.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the ruling Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) took to social networking site Twitter to express her anger against the protest rally.

"Appalled by the marches & protests in defense of the recently apprehended rapist in Kathua. Also horrified by their use of our National Flag in these demonstrations, this is nothing short of desecration. The accused has been arrested & the law will follow its course (sic)," she said.

The PDP's alliance partner in the state, the BJP hit back at the Mehbooba, saying she is trying to politicise and communalise the matter.

"We didn't block traffic, and our boys got in a national flag to the rally only because the man who was arrested was serving the country. We asked how can you arrest someone without a proper investigation. Mehbooba called him a rapist even though it wasn't proven. She is trying to politicise and communalise the issue. They want to further deepen the animosity between the two communities in the region," Sharma said.

Opposition National Conference (NC) president and MP Farooq Abdullah termed the rally an indication of dangers confronting the state.

"The PDP's coalition partner (the BJP) is hell bent on giving religious colour to this horrific crime. It is an insult to the National Flag when people come out in support of the rape and murder accused while waving the flag," he said.

The CPM's lone legislator in Kashmir Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said some fringe elements in Jammu are hell-bent on giving a religious colour to this heinous crime.

"A criminal is a criminal irrespective of his caste, colour and creed and must be dealt according to law. By giving communal colour to the incident, these fringe elements are committing a heinous crime against the humanity," he said.

Separatist leaders in Kashmir have warned of an agitation if the "victimisation of Jammu Muslims is not stopped".


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