New Delhi: Union Minister VK Singh today added his voice to the spiraling outrage over the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, which has jolted India. "We have failed [her] as humans. But she will not be denied justice," the junior foreign minister tweeted.
- 8-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Jammu in January
- Certain groups have protested against the prosecution of the accused
- VK Singh is the first central minister to talk about justice for the girl
He is the first minister in the BJP-led central government to talk about justice for little girl. His colleague Jitendra Singh, who represents a part of Kathua in parliament, had last month appeared to back the accused when he said, "those who have not done anything wrong should be given justice", and backed the demand of local BJP leaders for a CBI inquiry.
Soon after, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, calling it a "crime against humanity."
"How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil? What happened to [her] at Kathua is a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished. What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child?" Rahul Gandhi said.
The girl was kidnapped from near her home on January 10, kept sedated and gang-raped repeatedly for days by a group that included police officers before being killed. She was drugged and not given food the entire time. Just before her head was bashed in with a rock, one of the police officers asked the killer to wait so he could rape the child one more time, according to the charge-sheet. One of the rapists is a student who travelled all the way from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh after being invited to "satisfy his lust".
The child's mutilated body was found in the forests on January 17. As her community and locals protested, two policemen tried to help the accused by manipulating the evidence. Her family and relatives were not allowed to bury her body in what they believed was their land, by the Hindu families who dominate the region.
Protests against the murder have deeply polarized the region and have become another point of conflict between ruling coalition partners Mehbooba Mufti and BJP. Yesterday, Ms Mufti, the Chief Minister, met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and accused the BJP's state leadership of creating trouble in state.
The comment of General VK Singh, a former army chief, contrasts with the sight of two state BJP ministers attending a rally organised in support of the accused. Ministers Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga attended the event organised by Hindu Ekta Manch, an outfit that has been protesting against the arrests in the case.
With the police charge-sheet revealing the sheer depravity of the crime and the horror of the girl's final days, #RapeAndMurderOfHumanity became trending hashtags, widely posted by celebrities and other prominent voices.
Eight people have been arrested. The main accused is a retired revenue department official who planned the crime to instill fear among the Bakherwal nomads - the girl was one of them - and drive them out of the Rassana area where they were living. The others are special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Sanji Ram's underage nephew, his friend and Sanji Ram's son Vishal Jangotra.