Kathua rape: Mehbooba promises justice, Congress questions Modi’s ‘silence’ (Roundup)

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Jammu, April 12 (IANS) As the issue of brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua assumed communal proportions, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday promised that there will be no obstruction of justice while the Congress targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his “silence” over the issue.

“The law will not be obstructed by the irresponsible actions and statements of a group of people. Proper procedures are being followed, investigations are on fast track and justice will be delivered,” the Chief Minister said.

Her tweet follows protest by the Jammu Bar Association against the handling of the case by the Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch and demand for a CBI probe into it.

Eight people, including alleged mastermind Sanji Ram, have been charged with abduction, rape and murder of the ‘Bakerwal’ (nomadic) girl in Kathua’s Rasana village in January.

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi asked “how could anyone protect the culprits” and deplored letting politics interfere in such “unimaginable brutality”.

“How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil? What happened to Asifa at Kathua is a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished,” he tweeted.

“What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child,” he asked.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his silence over the issue and said he should speak up over violence against women in states where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power.

“Prime Minister is silent over the incidents of rape in Unnao (in Uttar Pradesh) and Kathua,” Sibal told the media.

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Slamming Modi over his day-long fast against the washout of the second part of Parliament’s budget session due to disruptions, which the BJP blames on the Congress, Sibal said: “Why don’t you fast against incidents of rape? And tell the people that you are feeling bad about the incidents of rape and so you are fasting.”

Meanwhile, the Jammu Bar Association reiterated its demand for a CBI probe into the case. It said that while it did not support the accused, it wanted a fair probe.

B.S. Slathia, President of the Bar Association, said attempts were being made to project the lawyers as supporters of the accused against whom the Crime Branch has produced a damning chargesheet in the court.

“Lawyers of Jammu are being maligned in order to divide the state on communal lines. All we have been saying is that the investigation of the case be transferred to the CBI. Does anyone say that the CBI is communal?” Slathia asked.

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He said the Crime Branch that has been investigating the case had brought an officer from the Kashmir Valley to carry out the probe while the organisation had enough staff in the Jammu region.

“The officer in question has faced murder and rape allegations in the past. We have said the association of this officer with the investigation process has put a question mark on the probe.

“Justice should not only be done but must also be seen as being done. It is unfortunate that communal motives are being attributed to our demand. The media should report events in an honest manner,” Slathia said.

–IANS

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