Justice must be done in Kathua case, and politics avoided

Now that the two BJP Ministers from Jammu and Kashmir have quit the State Government and their resignations accepted over their perceived support to rapists in the Kathua case, the alliance between Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party and the BJP has survived yet another challenge.

The two Legislators, Choudhary Lal Singh and Chandar Prakash Ganga, ought to not have attended a rally an outfit called the Hindu Ekta Manch had organised to support those who had been arrested in connection with the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl. Shocking as this was, it was equally deplorable that street support for the accused had degenerated into a Hindu versus Muslim issue, and even nationalism was injected as a factor with participants waving the National Flag at rallies.

Somewhere else, a BJP leader even hinted at a Pakistani hand in the rape and murder. Also appalling was the fact that a section of the lawyers’ fraternity in the State actually obstructed the legal process against the accused rapists from going ahead; indeed, they went on a strike as if they were seeking to uphold a glorious cause. The Bar Council of India has had to step in and sternly ask the obstructionist lawyers there to behave. The council has deputed a panel of its own to visit the place, conduct inquiries and submit its report. While the two Ministers who have now resigned had not in so many words backed the accused, they had certainly raised questions on the State administration’s action against the alleged perpetrators of the crime and demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Expectedly, the Congress and the rest of the opposition have sought to take full political advantage of the situation, blaming the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to shield its MLAs. But if politics is to be played, then even the Congress cannot remain untainted. At least one prominent television news channel has reported that the Hindu Ekta Manch has connections with the Congress. Also, one of those in the forefront of the agitation against the arrests in the rape case happened to be an important member of senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s election team.

It is disgusting that certain politicians have taken to highlighting the ‘Hindu’ angle in the sordid episode — the girl was drugged and confined in a temple, and the support for the alleged rapists had come from a Hindu outfit. They should desist from dragging in religion into what is a heinous crime and a blot on humanity.