Guilty must be held accountable: UN chief on Kathua rape


NATIONAL | April 14, 2018

NEW DELHI (PTI): United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres has termed the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua a "horrific" incident and asked Indian authorities to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice.

"I think we've seen the media reports of this horrific case, of the abuse and the murder of a young girl. We very much hope that the authorities will bring the perpetrators to justice so they can be held accountable for the murder of this young girl," Guterres' spokesperson Stephane Dujjaric told reporters at a press briefing on Friday.

Dujjaric was responding to questions about the UN chief's reaction to the gruesome rape and murder case that has sparked outrage across India and also made international headlines.

The girl from nomad Muslim Bakarwal community was abducted from Kathua's Rasana village in January. Police say the attack on the minor was rooted in religious politics, with a group of local men planning to scare away the Bakarwals by simply kidnapping a girl. But forensic reports showed that the victim had been drugged, repeatedly raped, bludgeoned with a rock and strangled. Eventually, her corpse was thrown into the forest where it was found a week later.

The gory crime, and the events in its wake, evoked sharp reactions from international human rights organisations. The Human Rights Watch rapped the ruling BJP for apparent "religious prejudice" in shielding the accused in the case. Amnesty International said the "disgraceful" attempts by lawyers and right-wing groups to obstruct the investigation showed "how deep the bigotry around this case runs".

Underlining the political tensions over the case, some members of the PDP-BJP coalition in J&K joined a rally organised by a right-wing group last month to show support for the eight men accused of the crime, including a former bureaucrat and four police officers.

On Friday, two of those BJP leaders — forests minister Lal Singh and industries minister Chandar Prakash Ganga — resigned as anger mounted over the rally.

Massive protest rallies demanding justice for the minor victims and punishment for the accused in the Kathua and Unnao rape cases were held over the last few days. The rallies, which echoed mass agitation against sexual violence following the Nirbhaya case in December 2012, piled pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government. On Friday evening, the PM finally broke his silence and assured that "no culprit will be spared, our daughters will definitely get justice."

 Earlier, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that law "will not be obstructed by the irresponsible actions and statements of a group of people".

The CM has requested the chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir high court for establishment of a special fast track court, the first in the state, which will complete trial in the Kathua rape case within 90 days.

Featured image: TOI/NewsTV18