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Citing one acquittal, BJP leader alleges loopholes in probe of rape, murder of 8-year-old Kathua girl

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, who was the chief minister when the eight-year-old girl was raped and murdered, welcomed the court’s order in the case and said it should not be politicised.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2019 00:05 IST
HT correspondents
HT correspondents
Hindustan Times, Jammu/Srinagar
Kathua rape and case,Kathua rape,Kathua girl
BJP leader Chander Parkash Ganga on Monday cited the acquittal of one of the eight accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua in January 2018 to question the investigation carried out in the case. (Arvind Yadav/HT File PHOTO)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Chander Parkash Ganga on Monday cited the acquittal of one of the eight accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua in January 2018 to question the investigation carried out in the case.

“Vishal Jangotra’s acquittal makes us believe that somewhere there were loopholes in the investigation. As per the inquiry, he was one of the main accused. The so-called evidence produced by the prosecution failed to convince the court that Vishal was in Kathua at the time of the crime,’’ said Ganga. Ganga was forced to resign from the then People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government along with his party colleague, Lal Singh, for joining a protest in support of the accused.

He said Jangotra’s acquittal has led them to believe that there were discrepancies in the investigation, which found Sanji Ram, his father, as the main accused who also hatched the conspiracy to save his son. “Now with Vishal been acquitted, the allegations against Sanji Ram that he conspired to save his son and committed the crime do not hold any merit,” Ganga said. “Other persons held guilty have the right to appeal in the higher courts.”

Singh, who quit the BJP last year and formed Dogra Swabhimaan Sangathan, switched off his phone when his reaction was sought over the conviction.

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, who was the chief minister when the eight-year-old girl was raped and murdered, welcomed the court’s order in the case and said it should not be politicised. “The judgement has brought relief to many people. I compliment all those people of the country who stood for justice for the girl. Officials of [Jammu and Kashmir police] crime branch [which probed into the rape and murder] and the prosecution also deserve appreciation,’’ she said.

Mufti said the verdict has strengthened the people’s faith in the judiciary. “In our country rape incidents are on the rise, and to communalise and politicise them is the biggest crime. ...even infant girls are not spared and then these incidents are politicised and communalised...’’

National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah condemned the politicians, who defended the accused in the eight-year-old’s rape and murder. “The guilty deserve the most severe punishment possible under the law. And to those politicians who defended the accused, vilified the victim & threatened the legal system no words of condemnation are enough. #KathuaRapeCase,” Omar tweeted.

Former minister and People’s Conference leader, Sajjad Lone, said that justice has been served. “Justice served in Kathua. This is real good news.’’

Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal said the Jammu and Kashmir police deserve appreciation for the conviction of the rapists. “Politicians tried their best to sabotage the movement for justice for the girl. But the honourable court and the law enforcement agencies stood their ground.’’

BJP leader Ashok Kaul said his party respects every court decision while insisting that no leader of his party took out any rally in support of the accused. “The then BJP ministers had gone to pacify the people, who were protesting in Jammu.’’

First Published: Jun 11, 2019 00:05 IST