Normal life in Kathua town and its outskirts was disrupted as locals observed complete bandh in support of the Hindu Ekta Manch’s demand for a CBI inquiry into the alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old Bakerwal girl in nearby Hiranagar’s Rasana village in January this year.
Roads in Kathua town wore a deserted look as all the business establishments remained closed and commuter services off the roads. The bandh remained confined to only Kathua town and its outskirts, sources said, adding that the vehicular traffic, however, plied as usual on the Jammu-Kathua-Pathankot national highway.
Significantly, while the Hindu Ekta Manch is headed by state BJP secretary Vijay Kumar Sharma advocate, the call for bandh was given by district Youth Congress president Pankaj Sharma and Kathua Bar Association general secretary Rakesh Thakur. It was also supported by Kathua Beopar Mandal among other social organizations. Hindu Ekta Manch, an organization set up following apprehension of some Hindu boys including a juvenile by state’s Crime Branch into the alleged rape and murder of minor Bakerwal girl, is spearheading an agitation seeking CBI probe into the matter.
The minor girl had disappeared from near her house in forest area of Rasana village on January 10 and her dead body was found by police on January 17. Police took into custody a juvenile, but its claims to have cracked the case and found no takers either on side of deceased girl’s family members and their relatives nor the arrested juvenile’s relatives and other Hindu villagers.
Accordingly, state government handed over investigations into the matter to Crime Branch who, apart from juvenile, arrested two Special Police Officers also into the matter. These apprehensions infuriated local villagers who accused Crime Branch of arresting local youth under pressure from other parties and floated Hindu Ekta Manch to seek CBI inquiry to ensure fair investigations into the matter.
On Thursday, the Manch held a rally at Hiranagar which was addressed among others by two senior BJP ministers, Chander Parkash Ganga and Choudhary Lal Singh. Accompanied by BJP MLA Rajeev Jasrotia and Kuldip Raj, both representing Kathua and Hiranagar assembly constituencies respectively, Chander Parkash hit out at the SSP for arresting one or the other person at will. “We too want that the real accused are punished, he said, assuring people that “we will not allow this jungle raj, under which they (police) are picking up people at will, to continue. What kind of investigation are they doing?” he added.
Both the ministers sought two days time from agitators to take up their demand for CBI inquiry with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti assuring that they too will join people on the roads if no decision was taken in the matter. The deadline is expiring Saturday evening, said former Sarpanch of Koota, Kant Kumar, adding that they are holding a meeting of the Manch in Samba on Sunday to decide further course of action in the matter.
Recently Union Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh had also supported the demand of the Manch for a CBI inquiry into the matter.