SRINAGAR: The ruling PDP’s alliance partner BJP has taken one step forward and two steps backward on the brutal rape and murder of an 8-year-old nomad girl in Kathua, in Jammu and Kashmir.
Last month, the BJP was forced to sack two ministers, Lal Singh and Chander Prakash, for participating in the Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM) rally on March 2, in support of the eight rape accused arrested by the Crime Branch, supporting the family of the accused and their demand for a CBI probe.
Senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh had supported the sacking of the two ministers.
The saffron party also changed its stand and said since the matter was in court, the court would decide whether it was satisfied with the Crime Branch investigation or hand over the probe to CBI.
The BJP also distanced itself from Lal Singh, who went on offensive after his sacking and addressed road shows and rallies in Jammu and called for a CBI probe in the case.
However, dropping Nirmal Singh as Deputy Chief Minister and giving RSS loyalist Kavinder Gupta No 2 position in the coalition government and including Kathua MLA Rajeev Jasrotia, who also attended the March 2 HEM rally and giving him the key forest portfolio, has sent a message that the BJP is taking one step forward and two steps backward on the Kathua case.
On his first day in office, Gupta gave a controversial statement that Kathua rape and murder was a “minor issue and there was no need to give importance to it”.
A BJP leader defended Jasrotia’s induction saying he was a local MLA and had every right to visit Rasana and talk to locals. He also defended Gupta saying the Deputy CM had talked in the broader context about issues being confronted by the country.
Opposition National Conference, Congress, other parties and civil society groups in Kashmir have hit out at the PDP-BJP government over Gupta’s statement and inclusion of Jasrotia in the Cabinet.