- 49 retired civil servants write strongly-worded open letter to PM
- Blame him for "terrifying state of affairs" amid outrage over child rapes
- Call for end to hate crimes, protection for minorities, women, children
The letter criticized in strongest terms what they dubbed the government's failure "in performing the most basic of the responsibilities given to it by the people".
Expressing concern over the "decline in the secular, democratic, and liberal values enshrined in our constitution", the scathing letter said: "The bestiality and the barbarity involved in the rape and murder of an eight year-old child shows the depths of depravity that we have sunk into. In post-Independence India, this is our darkest hour and we find the response of our Government, the leaders of our political parties inadequate and feeble".
The letter did not spare the serving bureaucrats either, saying they "seem to have failed in their duty".
The child, belonging to a nomadic community, was kidnapped on January 10. Over the next week, she was drugged, starved, repeatedly gangraped and then murdered. It has been alleged that the crime was committed to warn off the Muslim nomadic community away from the areas belonging to Hindus.
There has been a groundswell of support for the accused - with even lawyers of the Jammu Bar Association opposing the chargesheet and going on an indefinite strike to show support. The strike entered its 12th day today. Two BJP members of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's cabinet also showed support for the accused, but after PM Modi's speech condemning the attack, they were forced to resign.
Calling the two points "a moment of existential crisis, a turning point", the letter suggested that the government's response will determine if the nation will overcome the crisis.
The Prime Minister, the retired bureaucrats said, should take five measures, which focus on capping hate crimes, offering special protection to Muslims, Dalits, minorities, women and children. It also suggested that the Prime Minister reaches out to the families affected by the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, seek their "forgiveness" and ensure speedy justice through an Special Investigation Team Probe and a fast-track court.