“Our daughters will definitely get justice,” said the Prime Minister. The two BJP ministers in Jammu and Kashmir who joined rallies in support of the Kathua accused on Friday resigned, according to TV reports.
The Kathua rape case in Jammu and Kashmir has shocked the nation and sparked a political storm, with the BJP and Congress trading barbs over the heinous crime.
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Union Minister and BJP leader Smriti Irani on Friday attacked Congress President Rahul Gandhi, slamming his midnight march seeking justice for the Unnao and Kathua rape victims as a farce. Gandhi, for his part, on Thursday led a midnight march to India Gate in New Delhi to protest against both the rape cases and prodded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to walk the talk on saving the girl child. Meanwhile, taking note of lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gang-rape and murder case, the Supreme Court on Friday initiated a case on its own accord, saying that such impeding of the legal process “affects the delivery of justice”.
The political fallout surrounding the Kathua case was not limited to BJP and Congress’ war of words, with former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday urging incumbent state Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to take stringent action against the ministers who are supporting the accused in the Kathua rape case. Abdullah further asserted that the ministers who allegedly threatened the police to not make arrests have no right to stay in the state Cabinet. Chief Minister Mufti, for her part, on Thursday announced that the state government will bring in a new law to make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors.
Meanwhile, caught on the backfoot over the actions of some of its lawmakers, the BJP on Friday said that two of its leaders in Jammu and Kashmir who joined the rallies in support of the Kathua rape and murder case accused were “misled and misguided” by people and accused the Congress of communalising rape incidents. “The two BJP ministers were misled by a few people,” Bharatiya Janata Party MP and spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told the media. Not moved by the BJP’s defence in the matter and upping its attack against the ruling party, the Congress is seeking to take forward the protest against the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and has asked its cadres at state and district headquarters to stage similar demonstrations across the country, demanding justice for the victims.
Hours after his midnight candlelight march at India Gate, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” over the rape incidents in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao was “unacceptable”. He prodded the Prime Minister to speak out on these incidents.
Here’s what happened according to Kathua gang rape and murder charge sheet: The eight-year-old girl had been missing in Rasana village since January 10. On January 17, her mutilated body was found, bearing the marks of gang rape.
This week, local lawyers tried to prevent the police from filing the charge sheet, and the Jammu High Court Bar Association called for a bandh on Wednesday demanding that the investigation be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The charge sheet lists as the main conspirator the caretaker of the temple in Rasana where the child was allegedly held. The girl was gang-raped repeatedly inside a village temple and kept sedated for hours before being killed by six men, including one who had been “invited” to come all the way from Meerut to “satisfy his lust”, the police have told a court. The kidnapping, rape and killing of the girl of the Bakherwal community at the Rassana area of Kathua was part of a planned, chilling strategy to instil fear and drive the nomadic tribe out of the region, reveals the 15-page charge-sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the chief judicial magistrate’s court.
In the midst of the investigation, lawyers of the Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHBA) undertook protests, demanding a CBI probe into the matter.
Meanwhile, Modi and his party members on Thursday kept a day-long fast against the washout of the second part of Parliament’s budget session due to disruptions.
Top 10 developments on Kathua gangrape, murder of 8-year-old girl, protests by Rahul Gandhi, celebrities and citizens:
1) PM Modi breaks his silence on Kathua and Unnao rape cases: Facing flak and political heat over the recent incidents of crimes against women and children, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke out, referring to the Kathua gang-rape and murder case and the Unnao rape case, which involves a BJP MLA as the key accused. Modi said that the “incidents being discussed since past two days cannot be part of a civilised society”. He added that “as a country, as a society, we all are ashamed of it”.
“I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice,” said the Prime Minister.
2) BJP ministers who supported Kathua rape case accused resign: BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash, who took part in a rally in support of the Kathua gang-rape accused, submitted their resignation to the J&K party chief on Friday, television reports said.
Earlier in the day, when she was asked about what action the party would take against its ministers Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga in connection to the Kathua rape and murder case, Lekhi had said: “What kind of action should we take if someone comes and says that they were misled?”
“Is it a crime to get misled?” she asked, adding that the people get misled and this can happen with anyone.
“The two BJP ministers were misled by a few people,” Lekhi told the media, adding, “When you are in public life, people come to you with their version… So, the lesson to them is not to believe one side or the other and let the law take its course.”
3) SC takes cognisance of lawyers’ obstruction in Kathua gang-rape case: The Supreme Court on Friday took serious note of lawyers obstructing the judical process in the Kathua gang rape and murder case and initiated a case on its own accord, saying that such impeding of the process of law “affects the delivery of justice”. The top court said that lawyers’ bodies have a solemn duty to not obstruct advocates representing the accused or the victims’ family in the courts. A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought responses on the conduct of lawyers from Bar Council of India, Jammu and Kashmir Bar Council, Jammu High Court Bar Association, and Kathua district bar association by April 19. “In our considered opinion, no lawyer can prevent the advocates representing the accused or victim’s family in the case,” the Bench said.
It sought a reply from the bar bodies on various aspects, including the question whether lawyers representing the victim or the accused can be stopped from appearing in the court by another group of lawyers. “Obstruction of process of law and delivery of justice, and that too by lawyers, cannot be condoned and is unethical. Access to justice cannot be impeded by lawyers,” the Bench said.
The Bench also took note of the fact that Jammu High Court Bar Association has passed the resolution to protest and not to attend the court and said that “it is solemn duty of the bar to not create obstruction”. The apex court agreed to take the sou motu cognizance of the matter after several lawyers of the apex court pointed out the incident in which agitating advocates at Kathua diatrict obstructed police from the filing of charge sheet in the court yesterday.
4) Jammu and Kashmir counsel opposes plea demanding Kathua rape case be handed over to CBI: Standing counsel for Jammu and Kashmir Shoeb Alam, who was called to the CBI court, informed that the police had on Thursday filed the charge sheet before the magistrate at his home. He strongly opposed the plea of lawyers that the case be handed over to the CBI for further investigation and said that thorough investigations were being carried out by the state crime branch.
Alam said that it is already a settled law that investigation cannot be transferred to the CBI after the charge sheet has been filed in the court. “Police team was heckled by the lawyers and prevented from submitting the charge sheet before the Chief Judicial Magistrate court in Kathua,” Alam said. He said that subsequently, the police had to produce the eight accused in the case and submit the charge sheet at the residence of the magistrate.
Alam informed the court that police have also registered an FIR against some lawyers for attempting to prevent police from filing charge sheet in Kathua rape case.
5) Lawyer for Kathua gang-rape and murder case victim’s family threatened: A group of lawyers, including P V Dinesh, Gopal Shankar Narayanan, and Shobha Gupta, said that an advocate for the Kathua gang rape and murder case victim’s family was also given threats and obstructed from appearing in the court. Earlier in the day, the top court had asked advocate Dinesh to bring materials on record to take judicial note of a strike call given by Kathua and Jammu and Kashmir bar associations in relation to the gang-rape and killing of the eight-year-old girl in Jammu region.
6) BJP says its ministers were ‘misled’ into joining protest march supporting Kathua rape accused: Facing flak over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, the BJP today claimed that its rivals were “selectively” picking the two instances to target it and asserted that stringent action was being taken in both the cases. BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi defended the two Jammu and Kashmir ministers of the party, who had joined a march against the police probe into the ghastly rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, saying they were “misled and misguided”. The party did not share their views and they should have maintained that the law was taking its course, she told a press conference.
7) HC notice to media houses for disclosing Kathua victim’s identity: The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notices to several media houses for disclosing the identity of the eight-year-old girl who was gang-raped and killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, which took up the issue on its own after coming across print and electronic media reports, sought a response from the media houses, asking why action should not be taken against them on the matter.
8) It can’t get worse than this, says J&K DGP on Kathua rape and murder: Condemning the Kathua gang-rape and murder, Jammu And Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) S P Vaid on Friday said that it couldn’t get worse than this. “It is a very heinous crime; it can’t get worse than this. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has done a very professional job and filed the charge sheet. Now, we hope that justice will be done,” Vaid told news agency.
9) Kathua victim’s father demands death penalty for perpetrators: The father of the eight year old girl who was raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district said that the perpetrators of the heinous crime should be “hanged till death”. Speaking to news agency on Friday, he said, “I miss my daughter every day. Those responsible for killing my daughter should be hanged till death.”
10) Congress workers to march in all state capitals: Congress party members will hold candlelight march at capitals of all the states against the Kathua and Unnao rape cases on the instructions of party president Rahul Gandhi, news agency reported.
Why no protests in other rape cases?: You see their plan, first shout ‘minority minority’, then ‘Dalit Dalit’, and now ‘women women’ and then try to somehow fix blame of state issues on the centre. All this while ignoring the strict action being taken by state governments, said BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi. Party has already condemned this act, two individuals (BJP J&K ministers) were misled and misguided by people. Lesson to them is not to believe one side or the other and let the law take its course, she said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will ‘gherao’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence here on Sunday over what it said on Friday was his silence on the rapes in Unnao and Kathua. Addressing the media, senior party leader Gopal Rai said the party would also launch a country-wide campaign after Sunday on rising attacks against women.
Rai said the Prime Minister became silent whenever the country faced trouble. “Why is he silent? What is the reason? Even Manmohan Singh used to speak at times.”
Rai alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were trying to save the accused BJP MLA in the rape in Unnao. “The BJP MLA should be arrested and police should end giving protection (to the accused),” Rai said.