At a time when the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir police is probing the alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, two state cabinet ministers from BJP on Thursday met leaders of Hindu Ekta Manch, which has launched an agitation in demand of a CBI probe, and assured them of support. One of the ministers also went on to say that the “jungle raj” won’t be allowed to continue, said sources.
Addressing the gathering, state Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Parkash Ganga also 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. He added: “We have heard you. 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?” Forest Minister Lal Singh questioned why the probe was not being handed over to the CBI.
Accompanied by BJP MLAs Rajeev Jasrotia and Kuldip Raj, representing Kathua and Hiranagar constituencies, respectively, Ganga and Singh reached Ramleela complex around 2.15 pm. The agitators told them that they too want the guilty to be caught, but demanded that the probe be handed over to the CBI. They alleged that they do not believe in genuineness of the Crime Branch investigation as it was being conducted “under pressure from leaders of the other community”. The ministers assured them that no innocent will be arrested, adding that they will take up the matter with the Chief Minister.
While Chander Parkash is BJP MLA from Vijaypur, Lal Singh is BJP legislator from Basohli.
An eight-year-old Muslim Bakerwal girl disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua district on January 10. Her body was found in the same area on January 17, sources said, adding that medical examination suggest that she was subjected to sexual assault.
Police initially arrested a juvenile in the matter. When both the Bakerwal community and local Hindu villagers staged separate demonstrations against the police probe, the state government first ordered a magisterial probe and later handed over the case to the Crime Branch that arrested two Special Police Officers, Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar.
Following the arrests, local villagers formed Hindu Ekta Manch under the leadership of BJP state secretary Vijay Kumar and started agitating in demand of a CBI investigation into the matter. They even took out a procession with a tricolour to press for their demand. Some processions were also attended by Congress leaders, including former MLA Girdhari Lal.
Reacting to the procession, Chief Minister Mehbooba 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.”
She even refused to meet the agitators when BJP MLA Kuldip Raj sought time from her in Jammu.