Kathua fallout? BJP asks its J&K ministers to resign from Mufti's Cabinet

J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti | Photo Twitter (ANI)
The BJP on Tuesday asked all its nine ministers in Jammu and Kashmir to submit their resignations to enable the party to bring in new faces in the two-year-old Mehbooba Mufti cabinet, party leaders said. The BJP has been under pressure ever since two of its ministers -- Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga -- took part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. The two ministers subsequently resigned. The BJP leaders said the party wants to bring in new faces in the cabinet and work for the people of the state. The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the chief minister, out of which 14 portfolios are with the PDP and the remaining with the BJP.

According to top state government sources, the reshuffle is likely to take place on April 20. The decision follows hectic parleys between senior BJP leader Avinash Khanna and party legislators, the sources said.

Here's what happened according to Kathua gang rape and murder charge sheet: The eight-year-old girl had been missing in Rasana village since January 10. On January 17, her mutilated body was found, bearing the marks of gang rape. This week, local lawyers tried to prevent the police from filing the charge sheet, and the Jammu High Court Bar Association called for a bandh on Wednesday demanding that the investigation be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The charge sheet lists as the main conspirator the caretaker of the temple in Rasana where the child was allegedly held. The girl was gang-raped repeatedly inside a village temple and kept sedated for hours before being killed by six men, including one who had been "invited" to come all the way from Meerut to "satisfy his lust", the police have told a court. The kidnapping, rape and killing of the girl of the Bakherwal community at the Rassana area of Kathua was part of a planned, chilling strategy to instil fear and drive the nomadic tribe out of the region, reveals the 15-page charge-sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the chief judicial magistrate's court.

Top 10 developments on Kathua rape and murder case, resignation of all BJP ministers in J&K and PDP-BJP alliance

1. All BJP ministers resign from Mehbooba Mufti's cabinet: BJP ministers to resign from J&K government to make way for new inductees. It is a reshuffle and nothing else: J&K Sources to a news agency.

2. Lal Singh takes out rally for CBI probe in Kathua rape; calls for JK CM 's resignation: BJP leader Lal Singh, who had resigned from the state cabinet over the Kathua rape and murder case, today led a rally in support of CBI probe into the incident and called for the resignation of J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti for her "failure" to address the issue. The former forest minister said the chief minister had failed to understand the popular sentiment and was yet to seek a CBI probe into the brutal incident. It is her (Mehbooba Mufti's) biggest failure. If she has wisdom and conscience, she should resign, Singh told reporters.

"If two ministers can sacrifice their posts in the interest of peace, those who are actually responsible for creating such an atmosphere should listen to their conscience," he said targeting the PDP leader.

Read our earlier coverage on the Kathua and Unnao rape case developments here: Modi denounces Kathua, Unnao rapes; 2 BJP J&K ministers resign: Updates 

3. After Kathua, 8-year-old raped, murdered in UP: In yet another shocking incident of crime against a minor, an eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped and murdered in Uttar Pradesh's Etah district on Monday night.

4. J-K Governor accepts resignations of 2 BJP ministers: Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra on Monday accepted the resignations of Forest Minister Lal Singh and Industries Minister Chander Prakash Ganga.

5. Congress demands court-monitored probe into Kathua case: Senior Congress spokesperson Ghulam Nabi Azad said he would write to the state government seeking protection to the woman lawyer who has come forward to fight for the victim.

He also alleged that the communal divide in Jammu is increasing under the BJP-PDP government.

Azad also hoped that the victim would get justice and lamented that politicians and lawyers who were expected to give justice to people and ministers who were expected to protect people, were protecting the accused.

"I am fully confident that the judiciary will do justice. Her soul will rest in peace if there is justice," he said.

ALSO READ: Another Kathua? 11-year-old found dead in Surat with 86 injury marks

6. 8 lawyers named in FIR for obstructing cops while filing charge sheet in Kathua case: Eight lawyers have been identified and named by the police in its FIR filed last week against a group of advocates who allegedly tried to prevent crime branch sleuths from filing a charge sheet against the accused in the rape and murder of a girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, an official said. The FIR was lodged against dozens of lawyers on April 10, a day after members of Bar Association, Kathua, (BAK) staged a protest and tried to obstruct the police from filing the charge sheet in the court of chief judicial magistrate, Kathua, against seven of the eight accused arrested in connection with the rape and murder case.

7. SC issues directions to provide protection to victim's family, counsel: Counsel of Kathua rape victim's family, Deepika S Rajawat on Monday said that the Supreme Court has issued directions to authorities to provide protection to them (victim's family and counsel). The apex court issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir state government and sought a reply on the plea filed by the victim's father in the connecting case. "The Supreme Court has issued directions to the authorities to provide protection to us (victim family and their counsel)," Deepika told reporters.

Read Mihir Sharma's opinion piece for Business Standard on crimes against women in India in the wake of the Kathua and Unnao rape cases: The rape cases of 2012 & 2018 that shook the nation 

8. 'India wants to know when', tweets Rahul after Modi assurance: Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Friday "India wants to know" when its daughters will get justice as he 'thanked' Prime Minister Modi for breaking his "long silence" on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.

"Dear Prime Minister, Thank you for breaking your long silence. You said 'our daughters will get justice'. India wants to know: when?" Gandhi tweeted.

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you for breaking your long silence.

You said “our daughters will get justice”.

India wants to know: when?#SpeakUp

— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 13, 2018

Gandhi's tweet came soon after Modi said at an event in Delhi that he wants to "assure the nation that no criminal will be spared" and justice will be delivered to its daughters.

Earlier, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Modi has done "too little, too late" over the two rape cases, but he said his party hoped the prime minister would now initiate tangible steps to provide justice to the victims.

Read what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to say about the Kathua and Unnao rape cases here: Kathua and Unnao aftermath: PM Modi says criminals will not be spared 

9. We want justice, hang the culprits, say victim's parents:"We want justice, the culprits should be hanged. We feel the need for having security as anything can happen," Kathua rape victim's father said, according to news agency ANI. The victim's mother said, "We just want justice for my daughter."

Father of #Kathua rape victim says, 'We want justice, the culprits should be hanged. We feel the need for having security as anything can happen.' Mother says, 'We just want justice for my daughter.' #JammuAndKashmir pic.twitter.com/TR9i39smm7

— ANI (@ANI) April 16, 2018

The victim's father is seeking the transfer of the trial to Chandigarh from Kathua, according to a Times of India report.

The grief-stricken family of the eight-year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, had set off on their annual journey to the pasture lands deep in the hills of the state, with the hope that justice will be done in the case. The family, belonging to the Bakerwal community, quietly packed their bags, saddled their horses and set off on the arduous journey to the higher hills a few days ago, the police said.

10. Protests in Delhi and Mumbai seek justice for Kathua and Unnao rape case victims: Outraged by th Kathua and Unnao rape cases, hundreds of people on Sunday participated in a protest march called "Not In My Name" at Parliament Street in the national capital against the increasing incidents of rape and atrocities on Dalits and minorities. The protest included artistes and students, who vented their anger over the incidents and claimed that Muslims in the country were living in fear. They said the rights of Dalits and Adivasis were being questioned. 

The participants at the "Not In My Name" protest also sought the immediate arrest of the two BJP ministers who led rallies of the Hindu Ekta Manch in Kathua on March 1 in support of the accused in the rape and killing of the eight-year-old girl. 

Bollywood celebrities, along with thousands of Mumbaikars, gathered on Sunday for a peaceful protest against the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua and the sexual assault of another young girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. Bollywood celebrities like Rajkummar Rao, Patralekha, Sameera Reddy, Twinkle Khanna, along with her son Arav, Akshay Kumar, actress Tara Sharma, music director Vishal Dadlani, singer and social activist Sona Mohapatra, filmmaker Kiran Rao, Aditi Rao Hydari, and veteran actress Helen were among many others who came on the streets of Bandra to protest against the incidents of rape and seek justice.

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