A gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old from Jammu's Kathua has hit headlines. What has been more shocking is the manner in which this issue has taken a turn and divided/polarised the region on communal lines.
The 8-year-old from the nomadic Muslim community of Bakarwals in Kathua was gang-raped and brutally murdered. The issue took a complete turn after the police filed a charge sheet in this case. Two BJP ministers have questioned the role of the police in naming 8 persons in the case and also a revenue department official as the mastermind of the plot.
The girl vanished from her home in Rasana village on January 10. Her body was found a week later and the police said that she had been repeatedly raped. The charge sheet said that the accused persons had plotted this crime to ensure that the Bakarwals moved out of the village.
Two BJP leaders, Chander Parkash Ganga, industries and commerce minister and Lal Singh, forest minister lashed out at the police and demanded that the case is handed over to the CBI. They also took part in the protest organised by the Jammu High Court bar association. During the protest, they alleged that the minority Dogras were being targeted in the case.
Prior to this, a group called the Hindu Ekta Manch held a rally opposing the settlement of Gujjars and Bakarwal tribes in Kathua. They also demanded that a police officer accused in the case be released. The BJP, however, distanced itself from the group.
The issue has put the PDP-BJP alliance into trouble. The PDP has said that it would break the alliance if the BJP failed to deliver justice in the case. The National Conference has been hounding the PDP on this case. Its spokesperson, Junaid Mattu had tweeted, "Knowing all the facts - and seeing how her Cabinet Colleagues openly tried to shield the rapists and murderers of (the girl) - If Mehbooba Mufti still sits with these people in the Government - it will be the lowest ebb of her political career."
Murder most foul:
In its chargesheet, the police said that the entire crime was orchestrated to drive the Bakarwals from Hiranagar tehsil. The Bakarwals are mainly shepherds and move through the Pir Panjal range.
The police said that the mastermind Sanji Ram was opposed to the settlement of Bakarwals in the tehsil. He had also been instigating members of the Hindu community against the Bakarwals and advised them not to give them land for grazing. It also added that one of the 8 accused in the case had come all the way from Meerut.
Further, the chargesheet states that there was a general impression among the Hindu community that the Bakarwals had indulged in cow slaughter and drug trafficking. The rivalry has been on for some time and both communities have filed cases against each other.
Further, the case files state that the deceased was held captive in a temple. She was sedated and raped several times for a week. Commenting on the role played by Vishal who had come from Meerut, the police say that he was called with a proposition to satisfy his lust. Further, the police said that the girl was killed and then head on the head twice to ensure that she was dead.
The accused also tried to cover up the crime by bribing the police Rs 1.5 lakh. The chargesheet names Ram, his son Vishal, sub-inspector Anand Dutta, Parvesh Kumar, a civilian, two special officers, Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma and head constable Tilak Raj.