SRINAGAR: With the rightwing Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM) threatening to block Jammu-Kathua highway to press for release of two Special Police Officers (SPOs) arrested by police for their alleged involvement in abduction, rape and murder of 8-year-old nomad girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, the ruling and opposition parties on Saturday termed communalisation of the brutal rape and murder case as “deplorable” and asked the government not to spare the rapists.
PDP general secretary Nizam-ud-Din Bhat said it is unfortunate that some people in Kathua took out a rally in support of those accused of rape and murder of 8-year-old girl Asifa Bano.
Asifa R/o Rasana village in Kathua district had gone missing on January 10 and her body with torture and violence marks was recovered on January 17 about one-and-a-half kilometers away from her residence. The girl was sexually assaulted before being killed by the abductors.
He said states and societies have always developed into proud civilisations and cultures by eliminating crime and abhorring sin and appealed political and community leaders to come forward to fight evils in the society.
Police have so far detained two SPO Deepak Khajuria and Virender Sharma and a minor boy for their involvement in abduction, rape and murder of the minor girl.
On Wednesday, Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM) workers and leaders took out a protest rally led by head of the Manch, Advocate Vijay Sharma from Ghagwal to Hiranagar area in Kathua district to protest against the arrest of two SPOs and demand their release.
Opposition National Conference leader Devender Singh Rana decried communalization and politicization of rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua.
“These attempts are highly deplorable and against civilized behavior. Can politics stoop such lower depths where barbaric act against a girl child falls prey to religious chauvinism,” he said.
Rana, who is brother of MoS PMO Dr Jintendra Singh, said those spearheading the cause of criminals should have instead vouched for the victim.
Terming protests in support of a criminal as illogical, he said these attempts might paralyse the investigation process.
“If it is Asifa today, it can be anybody tomorrow”, Rana said.
“Those aligning or indulging with the reactionary elements to have free run from the crime are actually destroying the social fabric. Taking sides with criminals on the basis of religion will embolden perpetrators of crime and lead to chaotic and uncontrollable situation,” he said adding, “It is moral duty of all of us to ensure that Asifa gets justice”.
Chairman Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) and MLA Khansahib, Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen has strongly condemned HEM’s demand about release of the SPOs.
He demanded stern action against the rapists and stern action against the protesters, who came in support of rapist SPOs.
Meanwhile, HEM head Advocate Vijay Sharma told New Indian Express that they are demanding release of the two SPOs arrested by police in the case.
“Both the SPOs have been framed by the police and forced to admit the guilt in police custody after being tortured,” he alleged.
Sharma said Crime Branch should collect scientific evidence against the duo instead of relying on their confession, which has been collected through torture.
He further alleged that police is harassing the Hindu youth of the area on the flimsy ground.
Sharma slammed Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for terming the arrested SPO as rapist. “Without trial, she is convinced he is a rapist”.
The HEM head said the leaders of the organisation would be meeting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday and put their point of view and demand a CBI probe into the incident.
He said people would block Jammu-Kathua highway on Thursday in case the arrested SPOs were not released and police continues harassment of Hindu youth.