Kathua rape-murder: Resignation of Kashmir ministers accepted

Apr 15, 2018, 07:17 IST | IANS

The BJP on Saturday accepted the resignation of two of its ministers from the Jammu and Kashmir coalition government but said their unwise move to go and pacify people rallying for suspects of rape and murder of a minor

Representation pic
Representation pic

The BJP on Saturday accepted the resignation of two of its ministers from the Jammu and Kashmir coalition government but said their unwise move to go and pacify people rallying for suspects of rape and murder of a minor was "mistaken for trying to shield the accused".

BJP General Secretary and its Kashmir pointsman Ram Madhav, who was here to attend the party's legislature meet, ruled out any threat to the ruling alliance in the wake of the resignations by the two ministers - Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga. He said the resignation letters were now being forwarded to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Madhav, largely credited for stitching together the ruling combine of the BJP and the PDP, denied that the two ministers had been asked to resign following pressure from its senior partner in the government. "There is no question of any pressure. These two ministers had gone to pacify the people, but subsequently their presence was mistaken for trying to shield the accused. They had never supported the accused.

"Yes, there has been indiscretion and it is for this that they decided to step down," he told reporters after the BJP legislature party meeting. The BJP General Secretary said the development would have no bearing on the alliance as both the parties were working in coordination..

He said the investigations had been completed by the state Crime Branch and a charge sheet had been presented in the court. "The BJP wants justice for the victim and there are no two opinions on that. There was never any confusion on this principled stand of the party." Asked about the demand for a CBI probe into the incident, the BJP leader said: "It is now for the court to decide."

Singh and Ganga had attracted widespread anger and criticism for attending a meeting of the Hindu Ekta Manch, a lose group formed to support the accused, which demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case. The meeting in Hiranagar area of Kathua district was called in support of the accused in the brutal gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old whose body was recovered from a forested area near her home, days after she went missing on January 10.

Mehbooba Mufti also chaired a meeting of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislators and senior ministers in Srinagar. After the meeting, Works Minister and senior PDP leader Naeem Ahkar, who is also the government spokesperson, "appreciated" the BJP support in the handling of the case which had caused fissures in the alliance.

Akhtar told reporters that PDP appreciated the support of the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP chief Amit Shah in the case. "We appreciate our alliance partner who helped us in this case. They made the two ministers resign. I see that as a confidence building measure. And if PDP and BJP continue to resolve their issues like this, I see there is no substitute to this alliance," he said.

Meanwhile, Mehbooba Mufti, who also holds the Home portfolio, terminated the services of a sub-inspector, a head constable and two Special Police Officers (SPOs) accused in the crime. She was said to have written to the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, seeking a fast track court to conclude within 90 days the trial in the case that has caused a nation-wide outrage, official sources said here.

According to police charges, the minor from the nomad Bakerwal community was kidnapped on January 10. She taken to a temple in Rasana village in Kathua district. Her attackers, which included temple official and policemen, drugged and gang raped her over days before finally killing her and dumping her body in a forest nearby, seven days later. The girl was attacked to scare away the nomadic Muslim community out of the village.

Also read: Kathua rape case: Mehbooba Mufti to ask for fast track court

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