Brutality brings people together
The horrific rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in the Kathua district of Jammu & Kashmir evoked nationwide grief and outrage. Thanking people across the country for their support for the victim, PDP leaders have maintained that this can usher in a new phase of the relationship between the people of the state and the country. The Kathua rape and murder has brought people closer and the Kashmiris' grievances that the rest of the nation does not feel the pain and agony of ordinary Kashmiris who are caught in the crossfire between the militants and the security forces will now approach an end.
Meanwhile, the ruling PDP has promised to set up a fast track court to hear the case and deliver judgement in 90 days. The J&K government has also promised to bring in a new legislation with provisions for more stringent punishment for child rapists. BJP, which is a coalition partner of PDP in the state, has asked two of its ministers to resign for attending a protest organised by Hindu Ekta Manch. Earlier, the Manch volunteers and the lawyers of the Kathua Bar Association and Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association had prevented the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir police from filing the charge sheet in the court. The Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the lawyers' protest and restrained them from preventing the due course of law. BJP and PDP leaders have also dismissed the speculation that the incident may cause a rift in the alliance. PDP has thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP President Amit Shah for their support to the J&K government on the issue. The fact that they made two BJP ministers resign from the state government for their alleged support to those who are protesting against the police charge sheet, which has named eight persons including three policemen, has ironed out whatever differences were there between the two ruling parties. BJP's move to ask two of its ministers to resign from the government came as a course correction in a situation when the Hindu protesters were agitating against the charge sheet prepared by Jammu and Kashmir police. The BJP did not want itself to be identified with communal forces on an issue where there was a serious crime committed against a child for being from another religion. The case also involved some policemen who instead of doing their duty chose to connive with the culprits in executing the crime. The state government has suspended the three police officials accused in the case.
Meanwhile, the locals in Rasana village are not ready to accept the fact that the victim was held hostage in the village temple. They say that people keep visiting the temple all through the day and it is not possible to keep someone hostage in the temple and rape her over a period of four days. Also, there are windows in the temple and it is not possible for so many people committing a crime against a child without others getting to know about it. The police first told them that the crime may have taken place at a nearby cowshed. But now they have changed the storyline. The police are now saying that the girl was sedated and kept under a tabled covered with rags.
Meanwhile, the victims family has quietly left the Rasana village on Thursday. The villagers did not give them permission to bury the body of the child in the village. The family has buried the body of the victim about eight kilometers from the village.
The BJP has asked the state government to withdraw a directive it has issued asking the district administration in the Jammu region not to prevent settling of tribal groups on forest land. Usually, the people in Jammu region, which is a Hindu majority area, do not like Muslim tribals to settle down nearby as it may affect the demographic composition of the area. The people in Jammu region have expressed their reservations against Rohingyas settling down in some private refugee camps. The BJP leadership has said that it has taken up the issue of Rohingyas with Union Home Ministry.