Kathua probe fair, ministers were 'misled' into joining protest march: BJP

Facing flak over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, the BJP today claimed that its rivals were "selectively" picking the two instances to target it and asserted that stringent action was being taken in both the cases.

BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi defended the two Jammu and Kashmir ministers of the party, who had joined a march against the police probe into the ghastly rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, saying they were "misled and misguided".

The party did not share their views and they should have maintained that the law was taking its course, she told a press conference here.

To a question on whether the party would take action against the two Jammu and Kashmir ministers, the New Delhi MP said it was not a "crime" to be misled.

"The lesson for them is allow the law to take its own course before opening your mouth," Lekhi said.

The opposition parties are putting pressure on Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to sack the two ministers.

The BJP had maintained that it was an "anti-human" and heinous crime and sought stringent action against the accused, Lekhi said, adding that the "rumour mill" was at work to claim that the saffron party was silent on the matter.

The eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community had disappeared from near her house in Kathua district on January 10. Her body was found a week later.

The police had carried out a "very fair investigation" and arrested eight accused in the case, Lekhi said, while suggesting that the Congress might have had a role in the public protests against the probe.

Bar Association of Jammu president B S Slathia, who was spearheading the protests in Kathua, was Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's polling agent in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, she claimed.

The Bar Association of Jammu was also putting pressure on the woman lawyer representing the prosecution not to take up the case against the accused and it showed what kind of "hateful politics" was being practised, Lekhi said.

She also accused the opposition parties of doing dangerous politics over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.

In the Unnao case in Uttar Pradesh, a 17-year-old girl has accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Senger of raping her in June last year. The CBI has taken over the probe in the case.

Lekhi also claimed that the two cases were selectively highlighted to target the BJP and said a similar rape-and-murder case of a minor girl in Assam did not get the prominence that the Kathua and Unnao incidents got.

"Some people are silent on that (the Assam incident), but have highlighted the other cases in a wrong manner, even though action has been or is being taken against the accused," she said.

A minor girl was raped and then the accused had poured kerosene on her and burnt her to death, the BJP leader said and named an accused -- Zakir Hussain -- who was arrested.

"The Unnao case is over-10-month-old, while the Kathua case happened in January. Another case was also reported in April. It was in Nagaon in Assam.

A 12-year-old girl, a Class 5 student, was raped and burnt with kerosene. The accused, Zakir Hussain, was 21-year-old and had two accomplices," she said.

The Assam rape and murder had happened in the last week of March.

Questioning why some cases were being given prominence while others were not, Lekhi said "politicisation" of atrocities against children and women should not happen.

To a question on whether she highlighted the Assam case because of the accused's religion, she rejected such a notion and said she was taking a dig at those who were only highlighting the Kathua and Unnao cases and maintaining a silence on the other cases.

The children and women, who were victims of such heinous crimes, had no religion and such "abhorrent politics" should be shunned, the New Delhi MP said.

Referring to the Unnao rape case, Lekhi said the police had got the victim's statement recorded before a magistrate last year, in which she had not named the MLA. She had accused Sengar, the MLA of Bangarmau, only a month later, the BJP spokesperson added.

The Uttar Pradesh government had formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and handed over the probe to the CBI, she said, adding that the police had acted against a chief medical officer, a deputy superintendent of police and other officials in the case of the victim's father's death in jail. He was an accused in an Arms Act case.

Asked if the party was contemplating action against Sengar, she said the probe should be allowed to be concluded.

Lekhi also accused the Congress, whose president Rahul Gandhi had last night led a candlelight march here in protest against the growing incidents of crime against women in the country, of "picking and choosing" and said the opposition party had not protested in a similar manner against the Assam case or the 2012 gangrape case in Delhi.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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