- Two BJP ministers resigned amid outrage over remarks over Kathua case
- Remarks made at rally by pro-Hindu group in support of Kathua accused
- Eight-year-old girl was kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered in Kathua
Forest Minister Lal Singh and Industries Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga had addressed a rally organised by a pro-Hindu group Hindu Ekta Manch on March 1 in support of the accused in the Kathua case. While Chandra Prakash Ganga had termed the arrest of the men as "jungle raj", Lal Singh said, "Why such a hullabaloo on the death of this one girl... many such girls have died here."
But Lal Singh, soon after submitting his resignation on Friday, told NDTV that they went to Kathua to defuse tension created due to migration. "We spoke to the protesters. They said that the police had washed the girl's clothes and had destroyed evidence that created suspicion in their minds, prompting them to demand a CBI probe so that the girl gets justice," he said.
While demanding "strictest punishment for the accused", Lal Singh added that they (he and Chandra Prakash Ganga) "felt" the important thing was to maintain peace in the area and if their resignation ensured it, they were happy to do it.
"If my sacrifice saves the party's image, I am ready to resign," seconded Chandra Prakash Ganga.
"A misunderstanding took place. They should have been more alert. Their intention was not to hamper the investigation. Allegations against them as being pro-rapists aren't true," Mr Madhav said. "It was sheer indiscretion on their part," he added.
Later, Mehbooba Mufti, who chaired an emergency meeting of PDP legislators in Srinagar, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for defusing the situation, adding that a sense of justice had been reinforced in the state.
"We appreciate our alliance partner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Ram Madhav and Amit Shah for their support and taking resignation of the two ministers about whom the media said that their role was not positive. I think this is also a confidence-building measure and if the BJP and the PDP resolve their issues in the same manner, then I feel there is no substitute of this alliance," senior PDP leader and minister Naeem Akhtar said after the meeting.
The girl, kidnapped from near her home on January 10, was kept sedated and gang-raped repeatedly for days by a group inside a temple before being killed. As investigations by the state police's Crime Branch over the last three months led from one arrest to another, certain groups, including Hindu Ekta Manch, worked towards rallying support for the accused.