Jammu: A day after two BJP ministers from Jammu and Kashmir, who had defended the men arrested for allegedly conspiring, raping and murdering an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, handed over their resignations, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti held a meeting with Peoples Democratic party (PDP) leaders in Srinagar. Senior BJP leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh and Jammu and Kashmir BJP President Sat Sharma, met in Jammu to discuss the resignations and the future course of action. Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary and one of the key forces behind the PDP and BJP alliance, also joined them at the party headquarter.
As soon as the charge-sheet revealed chilling details of the alleged rape and murder in Kathua, the nation was filled with rage. The eight-year-old girl, kidnapped by a group to allegedly drive away her Muslim Bakerwal community, was kept sedated, starved and gang-raped again and again for days before she was strangled and her head smashed to eliminate any possibility of survival.
Industries Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga and Forest Minister Lal Singh – the two BJP leaders who have sent their resignation letters to the party – were the most prominent faces from the BJP to defend the accused. “Why such a hullabaloo on the death of this one girl… many such girls have died here,” Lal Singh had said.
While Chandra Prakash Ganga had termed the arrest of the accused as “jungle raj”, Lal Singh had incited people to “defy prohibitory orders launch an agitation with full force or sit at home”.
Ms Mufti, who had met union home minister Rajnath Singh earlier this week, is said to have expressed her displeasure over the conduct of the two BJP ministers. In fact, it was learnt that PDP might be considering withdrawing from the alliance if the BJP didn’t pull out its two ministers from her government.
However, talks around the future of their partnership aside, PM Modi on Friday said that such incidents could not be part of any civilised society and promised to make sure that the culprits do not get away.
“As a country, as a society we all are ashamed of it (rapes),” he said.
This was the first time that PM Modi was speaking on the two rapes of minors in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao where BJP leaders appeared to be backing the wrong side.
He added, “I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice.”
After promising to ensure justice to the young girl and to bring in a new law “that will make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors”, Ms Mufti today took to Twitter to “commend the manner in which the people of Jammu dismissed communal forces and were unwavering in their support for a little girl”. “It has strengthened my belief that Jammu serves as a model of inclusiveness & together the people of J&K inspire secular unity & righteousness,” she added.