The alleged rape attempt and subsequent murder of an eight-year-old girl of the nomadic shepherd community last month in the Hiranagar area of Kathua district in Jammu is now being given a political and communal colour with the Kashmir based separatists and other parties trying to derive mileage out of the incident.

The saner voices of letting the crime branch, that has already arrested a special police officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria and a minor boy, to do its job have got drowned in the communal and political noises being made on the incident A war on the social media has broken out on the issue of transferring the case to the CBI after Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the PMO, whose parliamentary constituency covers the Kathua district, said there was no harm in handing over the case to the CBI if the people were not satisfied with investigation by the crime branch.

Former Chief Minister and leader of the National Conference, Omar Abdullah, tweeted: “The case is being handled by the J-K Police. If Mehbooba mufti agrees to hand the case over to the CBI, it will be another instalment in the price she’s paying to remain CM.”

Separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted: “Nothing can be more evil and shameless than supporting the rapists and murderers of an 8-year-old girl child and threatening the community to which the child belonged with dire consequences! It reflects the total moral bankruptcy of BJP in supporting the front that is threatening the Gujjars in Kathua and completely exposes its communal and anti humanity mindset for reaping political dividends!”

When an outfit, Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM), reportedly backed by the local BJP leadership, organised a protest against the alleged high handedness of the police team investigating the rape and murder case, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on 16 February tweeted: “Appalled by the marches and protests in defence of the recently apprehended rapist in Kathua. Also horrified by their use of our national flag in these demonstrations, this is nothing short of desecration. The accused has been arrested and the law will follow its course.”

Hardliner separatist Syed Alishah Geelani, though under house arrest, tried to add fuel to the fire when in his telephonic address to a rally on Thursday in Srinagar, he gave another twist to the position by alleging that the Muslims in Jammu are being subjected to worst type of situations. The HEM that is spearheading the agitation for handing over the case to CBI has slammed Mehbooba for acting in a “sectarian manner”.

The incident generated a lot of heat during the recently concluded Budget Session of the legislature when noisy scenes were witnessed over the incident. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri had informed the Assembly that a SIT had arrested the alleged culprits. The girl’s father had on 12 January filed an FIR with the police that his daughter had gone missing. Body of the girl was recovered five days later on 17 January in the forests of nearby Rassana.