United Nations (UN) chief Antonio Guterres termed the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district as ‘horrific’ and hoped that the accused are duly punished for the crime. The girl belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community and was out grazing ponies in the woods when she reportedly went missing on January 10. Her body was found a week later.
“I think we’ve seen the media reports of this horrific case, of the abuse and the murder of a young girl. We very much hope that the authorities will bring the perpetrators to justice so they can be held accountable for the murder of this young girl,” Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujjaric told reporters at his daily press briefing.
Dujjaric was responding to a question about the Secretary General’s response to the rape and murder of the girl. She was kept in captivity for a week in a temple where she was drugged and raped by as many as six men. The incident has shocked the entire nation with protests being organised in various places.
Prime Minister Modi tweeted his anguish on the incident calling it shameful and asserting that the guilty will not be spared. He said: “I want to assure the nation that no criminal will be spared. Justice will be done. Our daughters will get justice,” he said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi slammed the Centre government saying, “It pains us to see our children being raped and the party in power doing politics over it. We are here to demand justice.”
He called for a candlelight vigil in Delhi demanding justice in the Kathua rape and murder case and Unnao rape case — both in states where the BJP is in power. Senior Congress leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sharmistha Mukherjee and Sanjay Nirupam participated in the vigil.
Reacting to the Kathua rape-murder case the Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had on Friday said that her ministry will amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) ACT to bring in the death penalty for those found guilty of raping children aged 12 years or below.
The minister in a youtube video said: “I have been deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua, and all the recent rape cases that have happened on children. I and the (WCD) ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO Act asking for death penalty for rape on children below 12 years.”
Celebrities and athletes too came forward to express their anguish and called for justice for the eight-year-old girl. The gruesome gangrape shocked the nation and led to massive outrage across the country. Protests were held across major cities and calling for justice for the victim.
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir said that the Indian consciousness was raped by the Kathua rape and murder incident. “Indian consciousness was raped in Unnao and then in Kathua. It’s now being murdered in corridors of our stinking systems. Come on ‘Mr System’, show us if you have the balls to punish the perpetrators, I challenge you. #KathuaMurderCase #UnnaoRapeCase,” he said.
“Shame on those, especially the lawyers, who are challenging and obstructing Deepika Singh Rajawat, the counsel of our victimised daughter from Kathua. Beti bachao se ab kya hum balatkari bachao ho gye hain? #kathuaHorror,” Gambhir added.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Crime Branch, which was formed to probe the incident, have arrested eight people. The main accused in the case, a retired revenue official Sanji Ram, his son Vishal and nephew and two police officers who aided in the heinous crime by destroying the evidence. It is suspected that the motive behind the crime was to drive away the nomadic Muslim Bakherwal community.