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The brutal rape and murder of eight year old Ashifa in Kathua district of Jammu on January 2 was not only a gruesome incident but it was an act of shame. And after this rape and murder of young girl was unveiled, it even raised questions on the humanity, how this shameful act could have happened and some people tried to shield the culprits who were involved in this heinous crime.

Initially under the influence of some political people, the local police botched up the investigations and blamed a juvenile for this crime and arrested the minor and termed that case has been solved. However family members were not convinced with the police investigations, especially the role of Station House Officer who had threatened family of the victim girl when they went for registration of the case. Unfortunately police used force against those people who tried to highlight plight of the parents of young victim girl.

Only after consistent protests from the family members and some human rights groups and the raising of the issue in the state assembly, the government first announced the formation of Special Investigation Team (SIT) and then case was handed over to Crime branch investigation that unveiled truth behind this tragic and barbaric murder of young girl. It was only after the investigators got clinching evidence a Special Police Officer, SPO Deepak Khujaria was arrested and later one more SPO was detained along with a juvenile. The Crime branch has even pointed out some glaring examples how police tried to protect the rapist only to get some minor benefits from some influential people.

The SPO has even admitted to have conducted this heinous crime and told investigators that his aim was to scare the Gujjar and Bakerwal community living in the area who migrate to meadows of Sonmarg in summers. As the investigation was going on some people who had patronage of Bharatiya Janta Party and Congress leaders under the banner of Hindu Ekta Manch, took out  a protest march on the Jammu-Pathankote Highway. The protesters even blamed that the Crime Branch had falsely implicated the SPO, who was part of the investigation team formed initially to trace the girl. What was appalling that the protests who were led by some prominent BJP and Congress leaders used national flag as a shield to murderer who had committed one of the heinous crimes on the earth? The aim of using national flag was to raise the passions of people and gain sympathy for a person who deserve the punishment according to law. But trying to take a rally under the garb of tri -colour the aim of these protestors was term themselves as nationalists and deter the government who have been pursuing the case. Even the protest by this unknown group attracted the attention of J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti who blamed them for trying to shield a guilty.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that she was appalled by these protests and “horrified” to see the use of national flag to defend the accused in the Kathua rape-and-murder case. Mufti said that the accused has been arrested and the law will follow its course. The way to defend a rapist who even drugged the young girl before committing the murder and heinous crime is unfortunate and even the leaders of BJP and Congress should raise up and condemn this protest. These type of protests should never be encouraged, instead government should used an iron hand to tackle with those elements who are trying to flare-up passions by using national flag. BJP that is part of the present government should even rein in their leaders who are trying to save the rapist.

What is irony that the girl was raped and murdered to create fear among the members of the nomad community even the rapist had selected their target well in advance and it is shameful how some people are now coming out in open to defend the murderer. The state government should send a strong message to those people who are trying to misuse the national flag and trying to flare-up communal passions. The maturity in handling the issue by the government with impartial probe and letting the law to take its own course will retain the faith and confidence of the constitution and law among the common people. And any one irrespective of his political belief shall also be conveyed that nobody is above the law.


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