Breaking his silence on the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in J&K’s Kathua and the alleged rape of a teenager in UP’s Unnao, which sparked outrage across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday that “our daughters will definitely get justice”.
The Prime Minister’s comments came on a day when two BJP ministers in J&K’s coalition government with the PDP — Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Parkash Ganga and Forests Minister Choudhary Lal Singh — submitted their resignations to their party’s state chief. Singh and Ganga had faced criticism for taking part in a rally last month against the police probe in the Kathua case.
In Delhi, speaking at the inauguration of the Ambedkar Memorial in Alipur, Modi said, “Incidents being discussed since the past two days cannot be part of a civilised society. As a country, as a society, we all are ashamed of it. I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice.”
The Prime Minister said, “Such incidents in any part of the country shake the human conscience and sensibilities. I want to assure the country that no criminal will be spared and justice will be done. All of us will have to come together to fight this mindset.”
The comments came the morning after Congress president Rahul Gandhi held a candlelight vigil in the National Capital to demand justice in the Kathua and Unnao cases — both in states where the BJP is in power.
The CBI has taken over the Unnao case in which BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was arrested Friday after the 17-year-old victim alleged that he raped her after promising her a job. In Kathua, J&K Police’s Crime Branch filed a chargesheet last Monday against eight accused, including a retired revenue official and two special police officers, for killing the Bakerwal girl to “dislodge” the nomadic Muslim community from near their village.
Early Friday, officials said, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to BJP president Amit Shah and J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on the Kathua issue. “The victim’s family should get justice,” Singh said.
Hours later, the BJP’s J&K unit confirmed that the two ministers have resigned. Speaking to reporters, Lal Singh said, “I sacrificed the chair for the sake of the nation. I want justice to be delivered to the girl and the guilty hanged.”
Singh claimed that he and Ganga were deputed by BJP state president Sat Sharma to visit leaders of the Hindu Ekta Manch, which was set up to support the accused against an alleged witchhunt by police.
When contacted, Sharma said, “I had deputed them to meet local villagers who were migrating from Rasana village in the wake of the arrests by Crime Branch.”
Sharma said that a decision on the resignations will be taken after discussions on Saturday, when BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav would visit Jammu.
The latest crisis escalated after CM Mufti’s brother and J&K Tourism Minister Tassaduq Mufti told The Indian Express, while referring to the Kathua case, that the PDP and BJP have “ended up being partners in a crime (for which) an entire generation of Kashmiris might have to pay with their blood”.
PDP sources said the Chief Minister asked the BJP’s top leadership Friday morning to “sack their two ministers who had participated a rally by Hindu Ekta Manch”. The alliance partner responded by conveying that they will ask the ministers to resign but not immediately.
But as the day proceeded, sources said, the PDP upped the ante with several top leaders coming out in support of the Tourism Minister’s charge and CM Mufti finally deciding to sack the two ministers. It was then that the BJP asked its ministers to resign and “avoid an embarrassment”, said sources.
The PDP was confident that the BJP would not be in a position to protest if the ministers were sacked because of the countrywide anger against the gangrape and murder, said sources.
The resignations are also believed to have helped lower the temperature ahead of PDP’s meeting on Saturday where the CM is likely to decide the party’s course of action following the “non-fulfillment of commitments” by the BJP-led Centre.
Speaking about the resignations, BJP’s state chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi said, “They did it to save the party from the adverse publicity following their visit to talk to Hindu Ekta Manch leaders who were demanding the shifting of investigations from the Crime Branch to the CBI. The ministers had not supported the Manch agitation or its demand for a CBI probe other than to tell them that they would take it up with the government.”
Ganga is a first-time MLA from Vijaypur. Singh represents Basholi constituency from where he had been elected twice earlier as a Congress nominee in 1996 and 2002. He was also elected to the Lok Sabha from Udhampur in 2004 and 2009. He joined the BJP after he was denied a Congress ticket during the 2014 assembly elections.
At the meeting with Manch leaders, including BJP, Congress and Panthers Party members, in Hiranagar last month, Ganga had said, “We will not allow this jungle raj, under which they (police) are picking up people at will. What kind of investigation are they doing?”
Lal Singh had questioned why the probe was not being handed over to the CBI and asked the protesters to launch an agitation “in full force or sit at home”. The two were accompanied by BJP MLAs Rajeev Jasrotia and Kuldip Raj.
Reacting to Manch leaders taking out processions with Tricolours to press for a CBI probe, CM Mufti had tweeted: “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.”