For the first time since the BJP came under criticism for its silence on the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district and the rape of a teen in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao, the ruling party on Friday condemned the “inhuman act” and called for “harsh punishment” for the culprits. But the party also claimed that political rivals were “selectively” highlighting the two instances to target it and asserted that stringent action was being taken in both cases.
Addressing the media at the party headquarters, BJP spokesperson and Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi also defended the two J&K ministers from the party who had joined a march against the police probe into the Kathua incident, saying that they were “misled and misguided”. The two resigned later on Friday. Lekhi clarified that the BJP did not share the views expressed by the two ministers, and that they should have maintained that law was taking its course. Indicating that the party may not take any action against the two BJP leaders, Lekhi, when asked about action, said it was not a “crime” to be misled. “The lesson for them is, allow the law to take its own course before opening your mouth,” she said.
With opposition parties, until earlier in the day, putting pressure on J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to sack the two ministers, Lekhi also blamed the “rumour mill” for the criticism that BJP is silent on the issue.
According to Lekhi, the police had carried out a “very fair investigation” and arrested eight accused. She also alleged that the Congress may have had a role in public protests against the probe. Bar Association of Jammu president B S Slathia, who was spearheading the protests in Kathua, was Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s polling agent in 2014 Lok Sabha election, Lekhi said. The association was also putting pressure on the woman lawyer representing the prosecution not to take up the case against the accused, which shows the kind of “hateful politics” being practised, she alleged.
Lekhi claimed that the two cases were “selectively” highlighted to target the BJP and said a similar rape-and-murder case of a minor in Assam did not get the prominence that the Kathua and Unnao incidents got.