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Kathua: Remember How BJP Leaders Rallied In Support Of Rapists And Murderers Who’ve Now Been Convicted?

Even now, the BJP state unit has called the verdict "flawed".

A Pathankot court on Monday awarded life imprisonment to three of the six persons convicted in the rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir in January 2018. Sanji Ram, the mastermind and caretaker of the temple where the crime took place, Deepak Khajuria, a Special Police Officer, and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian, were awarded the death penalty. Three other accused — Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and special police officer Surender Verma — were given five years imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine each for the destruction of evidence to cover up the crime.

Several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders had rallied in support of these accused last year after they were arrested in connection with the case.

The demonstration, held in Kathua in February, was led by the Hindu Ekta Manch, which is headed by state BJP secretary Vijay Sharma. The protesters demanded that special police officer Deepak Khajuria be released, dubbing his arrest a “jihad”.  Reportedly, BJP leaders such as Rashpal Sharma, appointed as the vice chairman of Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for Welfare and Development of the Other Backward Classes, and Hira Nagar MLA Kuldeep Varma participated in the rally. 

Lawyers at a court in the city of Jammu too had tried to physically prevent officials from filing charges against the accused and have threatened the lawyer who is representing the girl’s family.

On March 1, 2018, as per a report in Firstpost, Chaudhary Lal Singh, the forest minister in BJP-PDP government, and Chander Prakash Ganga, Jammu and Kashmir’s minister for commerce and industries, addressed a gathering of a thousand people at Kooth village, demanding a CBI probe in the brutal rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl. At least seven MLAs from BJP participated in the rally. They also invoke whataboutery in their speech. “One girl was killed here. They don’t understand that many women have gone missing since 1947. No one is asking about them,” Singh said during the event. 

Also read: ‘They Don’t Want Justice, They Want Riots’: How The Murder Of A Child In Aligarh Turned Into A Communally Tense Issue

After facing criticism, the Singh and Ganga had resigned from the BJP-PDP government. The BJP had even hit out at the Opposition. Meenakshi Lekhi had blamed the Congress party for “communalising” the Kathua rape and murder case. She said, “You see their (Congress) plan, first shout minority-minority, then Dalit-Dalit, and now women-women, and then try to somehow fix blame of state issues on the Centre. And all this while ignoring the strict action being taken by the state governments.”

Even now, after more than a year, the BJP’s attitude hasn’t changed much. The Jammu and Kashmir BJP unit called the verdict “flawed”. “I have not gone through the entire verdict yet but from what I have come to know, it is a flawed verdict,” BJP spokesperson Ashwini Kumar Chrungoo told PTI, adding, “How can one person be acquitted and others convicted for the same crime?”

With PTI inputs

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