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Facing flak over Kathua, Unnao, BJP leaders assure 'justice will be done'

Last updated on: April 13, 2018 22:05 IST

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the family of the Kathua rape victim should get justice.

IMAGE: A woman displays a placard during a protest at Rajghat in New Delhi on Friday. Photograph: PTI Photo

Facing flak over Kathua and Unnao rape cases, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday said those found guilty should be given a stringent punishment and claimed that the police acted quickly in both the matters.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the family of the Kathua rape victim should get justice.

Singh's remarks come amid nationwide outrage over the rape and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The victims' family should get justice," the minister told reporters when asked about the case.


BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi defended the two Jammu and Kashmir ministers of the party, who had joined a rally against the police probe in the Kathua case, claiming that they were 'misled' into attending the protest.

In a press conference, Lekhi also accused the opposition parties of doing 'dangerous politics' over these incidents.

She said Bar Association of Jammu president B S Slathia, who spearheaded the protest in Kathua, was Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's polling agent in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Lekhi also claimed that these two incidents were 'selectively' highlighted to target the BJP and said that a similar case of rape and murder of a minor girl in Assam had happened, but it never got the prominence that the Kathua and Unnao cases have got.

"Some people are silent on that (the Assam incident), but have highlighted the other cases in a wrong manner, even though action has been or is being taken against the accused," she said.

A minor girl was raped and then the accused had poured kerosene on her and burnt her to death, the BJP leader said and named an accused -- Zakir Hussain -- who was arrested.

"The Unnao case is over-10-month-old, while the Kathua case happened in January. Another case was also reported in April. It was in Nagaon in Assam. A 12-year-old girl, a Class 5 student, was raped and burnt with kerosene. The accused, Zakir Hussain, was 21-year-old and had two accomplices," she said.

The Assam rape and murder had happened in the last week of March.

Questioning why some cases were being given prominence while others were not, Lekhi said 'politicisation' of atrocities against children and women should not happen.

To a question on whether she highlighted the Assam case because of the accused's religion, she rejected such a notion and said she was taking a dig at those who were only highlighting the Kathua and Unnao cases and maintaining a silence on the other cases.

The children and women, who were victims of such heinous crimes, had no religion and such "abhorrent politics" should be shunned, the New Delhi MP said.

Referring to the Unnao rape case, Lekhi said the police had got the victim's statement recorded before a magistrate last year, in which she had not named the MLA.

She had accused Sengar, the MLA of Bangarmau, only a month later, the BJP spokesperson added.

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh defended the investigation by the crime branch into the Kathua incident, saying it was a court-monitored probe.

Asserting that the culprits in the case must be punished, he said if someone is not satisfied with the probe, he can move the court and put forth his point.

Defending the investigation by the crime branch, the deputy chief minister said, "Witnesses were brought to the court, and the court was made aware about the probe from time to time. We are clear that the investigation (by the crime branch) was fair."

"Our party (BJP) and the government are on same page that culprits should be severely punished. Culprits and criminals have no religion. The girl should get justice, that is our resolve," Singh told PTI, adding, "Our state executive are on record saying that the criminals should be punished."

The Director General of Police had on Thursday defended the crime branch probe saying the Jammu and Kashmir Police is highly professional and competent to investigate the case, but added that they have no objection to a probe by the CBI.

On April 9, some lawyers had tried to prevent a police team from filing a charge sheet in the case following which another case was registered on Tuesday against those who obstructed the sleuths.

Taking a dig at protesting people, including some lawyers for their acts, the deputy chief minister said the matter 'has gone beyond the preview of the government or any other agency' and they should move court over the issue.

Singh also came in defence of the two BJP ministers who had reportedly attended an event organised by a right-wing group in defence of the accused in the case, saying they had gone there the prevent the situation from getting communalised.

Asserting that the minister in question had told him that they never supported the protesters, the deputy chief minister said, "They had gone there to defuse the situation and prevent it from getting communalised as people were protesting in large numbers, highway were blocked and it was turning into a major law-and-order problem".

The eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community disappeared near her house on January 10 in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district. A week later, her body was found in the same area.

During initial investigations, the police arrested a juvenile. Later, the case was transferred to the Jammu and Kashmir Police's Crime Branch.

Two special police officers and later, another five people, including a former revenue official and the alleged conspirator, who surrendered before the Special Investigation Team, were arrested.

The Crime Branch, which probed the rape and killing of the girl, had filed a main charge sheet against seven people and a separate charge sheet against the juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.

Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal incident. The bar associations have been opposing the action against the accused, alleging that the minority Dogras were being

Lawyers took to the streets shouting slogans and trying to block the road outside the court where the charge sheets were filed.

The court has fixed the next date of hearing on April 16 when the case would be committed to sessions court for trial.

In the Unnao case, the victim has alleged she was raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar at his residence on June 4, 2017.

In February, the girl's family moved the court seeking to include the MLA's name in the rape case.

After filing of the case, the victim's father was booked by the police under the Arms Act on April 3 this year and put in jail, where he died on April 8.

Union minister Maneka Gandhi has asked her department to work on a proposal to amend the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act to bring in the provision of death penalty for the rape of a minor below the age of 12 years.

In the present POCSO Act, there is no provision for capital punishment with the maximum sentence being life imprisonment for penetrative sexual assault as well aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

The women and children development minister has now proposed that rape of any child below the age of 12 years could lead to the death penalty, WCD officials said.

"I have been deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua and all the recent rape cases that have happened on children. I and the (women and child development) ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO Act asking for death penalty for rape of children below 12 years," Maneka Gandhi was heard saying in a video, which was uploaded on Twitter.

Another Union minister Smriti Irani said stern action will be taken against those found guilty in the Unnao rape case and condemned what she said were efforts to 'politicise' such cases.

"The law and the administration will work according to the Constitution and an appeal in this regard has been made by senior persons in the BJP. There are some people who want to politicise such incidents, but as a woman, I believe and it is my request that victim-shaming should not be done," she said, responding to reporters' questions on the Unnao case in Amethi.

The Information and Broadcasting Minister also took a dig at Congress president and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi for taking part in a candlelight march in New Delhi on Thursday against the growing incidents of crime against women in the country.

"Those who asked for votes for Gayatri Prajapati are protesting today. People know the reality," she said.

Irani, who started her two-day Amethi visit on Friday morning, said, "I appeal to the people to have faith in the legal process...stern action will be taken as per the provisions of the Constitution against those responsible (for the Unnao incident). The CBI is investigating the matter...our government is with the victim's family."

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