BJP legislator Choudhary Lal Singh, who was reportedly asked by his party to resign for attending a rally in March in support of the accused in rape and murder of an eight-year-old child, addressed more than a dozen rallies on Tuesday to drum up support for a CBI-led investigation into the case.
Singh addressed gatherings at Kootah, where family members and relatives of the accused have been holding a protest, and Satwari, Samba, Dayalachak, Barnoti, Chadwal, Rajpura, Hiranagar, Kali Bari, Kathua and some other places along the Jammu-Pathankot highway.
He told a gathering at Satwari that his fight is meant for justice to the victim girl only but that can be achieved by identifying “the real culprits”.
“She (victim) was our own daughter. We are fighting to punish her culprits but it is unfortunate that people living far away are interpreting this case without knowing the facts,” he said.
Justifying his demand for a CBI probe, Singh said, “We are not trying to save any accused person but there is perception that the Crime Branch has not done justice with the case.”
He asked his followers to make the demand for a CBI probe a rallying cry everywhere.
At Kootah, where the girl was brutally murdered, he told the gathering that the media has launched “a disinformation campaign” and “we, the Dogras of Jammu were projected as pro-rapists”.
Singh, who was forest minister, and another minister, Chander Prakash Ganga, resigned last week after outrage over their participation in a rally organised by Hindu Ekta Manch, a fringe Hindu group, in support of the accused.
Singh’s march began a day after Governor accepted the resignations.
Eight persons arrested in the case by the Crime Branch have said during the interrogation how the child was starved, drugged and gang raped during her captivity at a temple in Rasana.
The custodian of the temple, Sanji Ram, is believed to be the mastermind of the case.
The investigation revealed the crime was planned and rooted in religious hatred harboured by Sanji Ram against the Muslim nomadic community of Bakarwals.
The motive, according to the police, was to create fear among the Bakarwal community and force them to leave.
Meanwhile, the BJP on Tuesday dissociated from Chaudhary Lal Singh’s rally in support of the CBI probe in Kathua rape and murder. The party has also initiated an internal inquiry against two axed ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga for earlier participating in Hindu Ekta Manch rally in support of the accused.
“Whatsoever Lal Singh is doing now, the party has nothing to do with that,” BJP chief spokesperson, Sunil Sethi told Kashmir Post.
In an apparent reference to Lal Singh’s rally, Sethi said that nobody should hit the streets as the case was in court. “Everybody should wait for court verdict in the rape and murder of the child.”
Sethi said the party had ordered enquiry against the two ousted ministers. “It was ordered by Ram Madhav ji,” Sethi said. He, however, said that so far members of the inquiry team have not been nominated. “The inquiry report will be submitted to BJP president Amit Shah.”
Singh and Ganga had addressed a rally organised by Hindu Ekta Manch on March 1. Ganga had termed the arrest of the accused men as “jungle raj”.
Lal Singh had said: “Why such a hullabaloo on the death of this one girl… many such girls have died here.”
But after submitting his resignation, Lal Singh said he along with Ganga had gone to Kathua to defuse tension.
Sources in BJP said that resignation and subsequent events have created a rift in the party. “Some say Lal Singh is still with Congress. Some say we should have supported two ministers that would have subsequently helped in the party’s consolidation in Jammu region,” reliable sources in BJP told Kashmir Post. “We expect uniformity in things after Ram Madhav Ji Jammu visit on April 22.”