A lawyer who represented the main accused in the gang-rape, torture and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua has snagged a government post. Aseem Sawney has been appointed additional Advocate General of the state.
The lawyer claims he is not appearing in the Kathua case anymore. A government role for a man who defended the Kathua accused has provoked sharp reactions and is being seen as a political message weeks after the ruling BJP yanked support from the government of Mehbooba Mufti. The state was placed under governor's rule on June 20.
The Kathua rape case, details of which left a nation shocked and disturbed, was one of the main points of disagreement between allies Mehbooba Mufti and the BJP.
Ms Mufti today targeted her former alliance partner in tweets. The former Chief Minister said it was "ironic" that the appointment had been made on the World Day for International Justice.
"Rewarding those who defend alleged murderers & rapists is abhorrent & a shocking violation of the spirit of justice. Such a move will only serve to encourage the rape culture rampant in our society. Expect the @jandkgovernor to intervene," she posted.
The little girl belonging to the Muslim Backerwal nomads, was kidnapped in the first week of January, kept in a small local temple, drugged, starved and repeatedly raped for days. She was finally strangled and her head was bashed in with a rock, but only after one of the men begged to be allowed to rape her one last time.
After eight people were arrested, including retired government official Sanji Ram, senior BJP leaders in the state, including lawmakers, openly backed the accused and called for a CBI inquiry to prove their innocence.
The men are being tried in Pathankot in Punjab.
Ms Mufti's rival and former chief minister Omar Abdullah called the decision "inexplicable and worrisome."
"The decision is both inexplicable and worrisome but if the victim's lawyer is not unduly concerned by this development the rest of us should just let her get on with the job of ensuring justice for the young victim," Mr Abdullah tweeted, referring to the reported comment of the lawyer representing the Kathua girl's family.
Deepika Singh Rajwat was quoted as saying: "We should not react to this. We should focus on the trial. They come out with nonsense every now and then to take the attention away from the trial."
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