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Kathua: Outrage mounts, Maneka Gandhi for death penalty to child rapists

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Kathua: Outrage mounts, Maneka Gandhi for death penalty to child rapists

As a storm of protests erupted over the gory gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and the gangrape of another minor in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao, a few voices emerged from the BJP against the crime.

So far, the party has been largely silent on the crime and the loudest voices from it have been in shocking defence of the accused in both cases.

This has evoked reactions internationally; A tweet from The New York Times said: “In India, the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl has led to protests by Hindu nationalists – coming to the defence of the accused.”

#KathuaCase was trending on Twitter, in an outrage reminiscent of the Nirbhaya protests on social media.

Hindutva outfits have been backing the accused, all Hindus, and demanding their release, claiming they were being treated unfairly.

Forensic examination, including DNA tests, confirmed the child was confined in a Devasthan and that she was drugged, raped and murdered.

On Thursday, April 12, the Jammu and Kashmir government appointed two special public prosecutors, both Sikhs, for the trial in the sensitive Kathua rape and murder case to ensure focussed attention and speedy conduct in the matter, said a report in The Financial Express quoting a senior official. The state police crime branch which probed the alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl belonging to the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community had filed a main charge sheet against seven accused persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.

Asked whether two Sikh officers were engaged as SPPs to ensure “neutrality” in view of Hindu-Muslim polarisation over the case, J&K DGP SP Vaid said “please do not think on religious lines. It has not been done. Police does not think in terms of Hindu or Muslim or Sikh”.

Vaid said nothing could be worse than this crime. “It is a very heinous crime, it can’t get worse than this. The SIT has done a very professional job and filed chargesheet, now we hope justice will be done,” said Vaid.

Victim’s family under threat: Even as the chorus for justice in Kathua rape case grows louder, the minor victim’s family is under threat. The sister of the eight-year-old girl, who was held captive, sedated and repeatedly raped before being killed, says her family received death threats recently. Speaking to News18 Network, she demanded death penalty for the accused.

A report in The Times of India (TOI) said the family of the raped and murdered eight-year-old quietly abandoned their home in Rasana village out of fear late on Tuesday after the Jammu Bar Association called a strike to protest the J&K police’s “mishandling” of the investigation into the case.

According to media reports, Asifa’s father Muhammad Yusuf Pujwala has left for an unknown place along with his wife, two children and livestock. Earlier, it was said that the family was planning to leave for Kashmir next month.

The girl, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, had disappeared from a spot near her house on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area. A Special Investigation Team, formed to probe the incident, has arrested eight people, including a local priest, two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.

Lawyers obstructing justice: On Tuesday, April 10, an FIR was registered against lawyers who attempted to prevent the police from filing chargesheet in the Kathua rape and murder case in Jammu and Kashmir, as the investigation came close to a conclusion. “The FIR has been lodged into the incident wherein some lawyers tried to obstruct the presenting of the chargesheet by the crime branch in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Kathua on Monday. Action under law will be taken against those found involved in the incident,” J&K Director-General of Police SP Vaid said.

In response, the Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHBA) called for a bandh in the Jammu region on Wednesday in support of various demands, including CBI probe into the rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl. Claiming mass support to the call for a strike, JHBA said more than two dozen social, religious and political groups besides commercial transport and tanker unions have pledged support.

BJP involvement: Local BJP leaders and two BJP ministers in state cabinet have come out in support of the accused, led out marches and held demonstrations, with the crowd waving the national flag and shouting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

One of the leading lights of the protest in favour of a CBI probe is senior Congress leader BS Slathia, the president of the Jammu Bar Association. Slathia spearheaded Wednesday’s Jammu bandh. Slathia is very close to Congress veteran and Rajya Sabha leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who hails from Doda in the Jammu region. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election in the Udhampur-Doda constituency, Slathia was Azad’s chief election agent. Azad lost by about 60,000 votes to BJP’s Jitendra Singh, now minister of state in the PMO.

The chargesheet filed in the case said the 8-year-old girl was abducted, kept confined in a Devasthan, repeatedly gang-raped, drugged, beaten and ultimately killed by a group of men in Kathua. This has been revealed in a charge sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir police’s crime branch. 

The chargesheet:

Briefly, it says the 8-year-old was gangraped repeatedly inside the Devasthan or prayer hall, after the mastermind had “performed rituals”. One of the rapists was called from Meerut to satisfy his lust. The girl was confined using sedatives, then strangled and hit on the head twice with a stone in order to make sure she was dead. But not before another accused, a police personnel, asked the others to wait because he wanted to rape her one last time.

The motive was to dislodge a group of Bakherwal Muslim nomads from Rasana village in Kathua near Jammu.

In the days that followed, the chargesheet states, the accused paid Rs 1.5 lakh as a bribe to local policemen who knew where the girl was kept and helped cover up the crime initially.

According to the chargesheet, the mastermind behind the rape and murder is retired revenue official Sanji Ram who is among the eight arrested, along with his son Vishal Jangotra and nephew, believed to be a juvenile.

The Crime Branch had also arrested Special Police Officers (SPOs) Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar, a Rasana resident Parvesh Kumar, Assistant Sub Inspector Anand Dutta and Head Constable Tilak Raj in the case. Dutta and Raj were arrested on charges of attempting to destroy evidence.

According to the chargesheet, the girl’s father Mohd Yousuf lodged a complaint on January 12 at the Hiranagar station that his daughter who had gone for grazing horses in the nearby forest at about 1230 hrs on January 10 had not returned. A FIR was lodged and police arrested Ram’s nephew, leading to allegations of a cover-up by the Bakherwal community. On January 22, the case was transferred to the Crime Branch.

The chargesheet states that Ram masterminded the conspiracy to kidnap and, later rape and kill the girl. It states that he made SPO Khajuria and the juvenile a “part of the conspiracy and assigned them tasks separately and individually”.

Here are some reactions:

Congress President Rahul Gandhi led a march at India Gate last night in protest of the Unnao and Kathua rape cases. He said there were repeated incidents of violence, rape and murder of women in the country. “We want the government to take action.

“Today, women are feeling insecure to move out of their houses. Somewhere a child, a woman is raped, killed and we want that the government should resolve this. The women of the country should feel safe,” he said.

Gandhi said it was a national issue and not a political issue. “This is an issue concerning women,” he said, adding that people from all parties as well as the common man was at the India Gate. “I only want to say that the atrocities being committed against women, the government should do something about it.” He said Modi’s slogan of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” was a correct slogan. “We are saying that Narendra Modi should begin the task of protecting women of the country,” he said.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh refused to speak on the Kathua rape case. When questioned by reporters on the Kathua rape case, Rajnath Singh refused to make a comment.

Speaking to India Today later, he said that in case of rape of a minor, FIR should be registered immediately. Singh said that in case there’s any issue with the FIR, it should be looked into immediately and swift action be taken. The home minister also said that he spoke to Mehbooba Mufti and strong action should be taken.

Union Minister Maneka Gandhi says she’ll work to amend the POCSO Act to make rape of children under 12 years punishable by death. . “I am deeply moved with the rape incident of Kathua and [other cases]… (sic),” Maneka said adding that she and her ministry intends to bring an amendment of the POCSO Act to make death penalty must for rapists of children under the age of 12.

Union minister VK Singh on Thursday, April 12, said “we as humans” had failed the eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community who was gangraped and killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district but she would not be denied justice.

Union minister Smriti Irani, however, earlier said that the gangrape cases should not be politicised.

BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi termed much of the attacks on the BJP-led government in UP over the Unnao case, and the support that two BJP Ministers in the Mehbooba Mufti government extended to the Hindu Ekta Manch on the side of the accused in the Kathua case “as a pattern” by the opposition to undermine the Modi government.

A BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh Nandkumar Singh Chouhan said, “The act must have been committed by Pakistan’s agents to divide people by chanting Jai Shri Ram.”

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

PM Modi calls for a strong government, says even enemies think 100 times before doing anything

PM Modi pointed out that Pakistan had been troubling India for 70 years and it had bombs in its hands. But today the situation has changed and it has begging bowl in its hands. He said when there is a strong government, enemies tremble

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PM Modi calls for a strong government, says even enemies think 100 times before doing anything

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an election rally in Haryana’s Ambala on Saturday and said India’s enemies think 100 times before doing anything against the country when there is a strong government at the Centre. Haryana, which has a total of 10 Lok Sabha seats, will vote in the 6th phase on May 25. In 2019 elections BJP claimed victory in all 10 seats.

PM Modi pointed out that Pakistan had been troubling India for 70 years and it had bombs in its hands. But today the situation has changed and it has begging bowl in its hands. He said when there is a strong government, enemies tremble. Addressing the election rally at Ambala the prime minister asked if a weak government could have changed the situation in Jammu & Kashmir? He recalled the times when there was a Congress government and brave mothers of Haryana used to be worried day and night. He said it has been 10 years now and all of that has stopped.

PM Modi recounted BJP government’s achievements and said they had demolished the wall of Article 370 and Kashmir started moving on the path of development. The prime minister said that a total of 17 days remain to go for 4th June.  He further added that until now in 4 phases of elections, Congress and the INDI Alliance, chaaron khaane chitt ho chuke hain. He said whatever tactics the INDI Alliance used for the country have all been beaten by the public itself.

Addressing the election rally PM Modi said Haryana is a state which has patriotism in its veins and knows anti-national forces very well. The prime minister guaranteed to the people that their dreams are his resolution. PM Modi said there are 4 pillars of Viksit Bharat – poor, youth, women and farmers and he wants to strengthen all these pillars in such a way that the nation becomes strong.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Mallikarjun Kharge accuses PM Modi of inciting people and dividing society through his election speeches

Kharge said no prime minister before Modi has ever indulged in inciting people like he has been doing. He said the prime minister speaks about democracy repeatedly but does not adhere to the tenets of democracy.

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Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inciting people and dividing society through his election speeches. Kharge was addressing a press conference of the INDIA bloc, where Shiv Sena (UBT) president, Uddhav Thackeray NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar and other leaders were present.

Kharge said no prime minister before Modi has ever indulged in inciting people like he has been doing. He said the prime minister speaks about democracy repeatedly but does not adhere to the tenets of democracy. Responding to PM Modi’s statement that the Congress will bulldoze the Ram mandir in Ayodhya and also restore Article 370 if the INDIA bloc is voted to power Kharge said, they have never used a bulldozer on anyone. The Congress president said PM Modi has the habit of lying and inciting people about things which Congress will never do or the things that are impossible to be implemented.

Kharge further added that he is not answerable to Modi and the Congress will implement what they have promised in their election manifesto. He accused PM Modi of creating divisions wherever he went he tries to create division, speaks of dividing society. Kharge further added that PM Modi had described the Congress manifesto as Muslim League manifesto, but now he is calling it as a Maoist manifesto.

The Congress President assured that reservation has been enshrined in the Constitution which will continue and nobody can touch it. Speaking at the press conference Thackeray said, Achche din are coming from June 4 (when Lok Sabha election results will be declared) when INDIA bloc-led government will come to power at the centre. Thackeray pointed out PM Modi calls Shiv Sena (UBT) as the nakli (fake) Shiv Sena, and there is a possibility that tomorrow he may call RSS as nakli Sangh.  

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India News

Delhi Police arrest Bibhav Kumar for allegedly assaulting AAP MP Swati Maliwal

In her complaint, Swati Maliwal accused Arvind Kejriwal’s personal assistant of repeatedly slapping her and kicking her in the stomach and pelvic area when she went to the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence on May 13.

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The Delhi Police on Saturday arrested Bibhav Kumar, aide and former personal secretary of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in connection with the alleged assault of AAP MP Swati Maliwal. The development comes 2 days after Delhi Police registered a case against Kumar following a complaint by Maliwal. In her complaint, Maliwal accused Arvind Kejriwal’s personal assistant of repeatedly slapping her and kicking her in the stomach and pelvic area when she went to the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence on May 13.

On Saturday, AAP minister Atishi claimed the BJP made Swati Maliwal file the FIR using an old ACB case as leverage. She said Anti Corruption Bureau of the BJP has filed a case against Swati Maliwal regarding the illegal recruitment of contractual employees in Delhi Commission for Women. A chargesheet has been filed and the time of conviction is coming and the AAP party said that it believes that Swati Maliwal is being included in the conspiracy by using this case. Atishi said how the entire machinery of BJP, from Delhi Police to the MHA is working, was seen yesterday in Tis Hazari Court.

On Friday, the Delhi Police took Swati Maliwal to the Delhi chief minister’s residence to recreate the crime scene. Her statement was recorded before a magistrate at the Tis Hazari court. A counter-complaint has been filed by Bibhav Kumar with the Civil Lines police station in which he alleged that Maliwal had forcefully and unauthorised entered the Delhi CM’s residence.

 He also claimed that the former Delhi Commission for Women chairperson tried to create a ruckus and assault him. Kejriwal’s aide also claimed that the Rajya Sabha MP intended to harm the AAP chief and he strongly objected. Bibhav Kumar said a copy of the FIR has been sent to all the media houses by the BJP but BJP’s police are saying that they cannot give it to the accused.

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