BJP ministers reach out to Kathua villagers, slam govt

  • Handover case to CBI or face extended strike: HEM
  • Question ‘Jungle Raj’ by Crime Branch; to meet CM for CBI probe into rape case

Differences emerged within the ruling PDP-BJP coalition over the alleged rape and murder case of a minor nomad girl in Kathua today when two senior BJP ministers came down heavily on their own government for “creating jungle raj” in the victim’s Rasana village and not going in for a CBI investigation into the case.
The ministers also questioned the role of the state police as well as the Crime Branch investigation, saying that “it has shaken the faith of people in the administration and instilled fear psychosis in them”.
Terming the incident as the “murder of humanity” and “highly condemnable”, Minister for Forests Choudhary Lal Singh and Minister for Industries Chander Prakash Ganga said they would take up matter with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tomorrow and urge her to hand over the case to the CBI for an “impartial inquiry” and “justice to the victim and her family”.
The BJP ministers had gone to Kootah area in Kathua to meet the families from Rasana village who had left their homes on February 27, alleging “torture and harassment” of their youths by Crime Branch officials under the garb of investigation into the alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from Bakerwal community last month. So far, the Crime Branch officials have arrested two SPOs of the J&K Police and a juvenile in connection with the case, while several people have repeatedly been called for questioning. The Chief Minister has reportedly opposed a CBI inquiry into the case.
“Everyone wants 100 per cent justice for the victim and her family. The incident was shameful and a murder of humanity but we must ensure that the real culprits are booked and if such incidents continue to take place, no girl will feel safe. The way they (Crime Branch) have created a ‘jungle raj’ in the area, nobody will tolerate it. This is a democratic set-up and we will have to act under democratic norms,” Ganga said while addressing thousands of villagers at Ram Lila Ground in the Kootah area today.
The BJP minister said the “illegal detention” of local youths in the garb of investigation had shaken the faith of people in the police and administrative set-up. “Justice must be given to all and injustice will not be done with anyone. For this, the government must go for a CBI inquiry and we promise that we will take up this matter with the Chief Minister tomorrow,” Ganga said.
In his address, Lal Singh questioned the state government’s decision not to hand over the case to the Crime Branch. “Was the district police incompetent to deal with the case after the constitution of the Special Investigating Team? The government committed a blunder when officials from Kashmir were specially called for the investigation. Were the officials from Jammu incompetent to do the investigation? The job of the government is to build confidence and not to create mistrust among people,” the BJP minister said.
The senior minister said it appeared the government was afraid of ordering a CBI investigation. “Do they (government) think that the culprit will go unpunished if the case is handed over to the CBI? Is that possible?” he asked. “This government is for all and not for a particular region or people of a particular caste, creed or religion. We (BJP) too have an equal share in it (government),” he said while asking villagers to return to Rasana. Meanwhile, people in Kootah, Jatwal and adjoining villages observed a complete shutdown in protest against the “harassment” of Rasana villagers by Crime Branch officials.

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