Akin to the Amarnath Shrine land row in 2008, the recent rape-murder of an 8-year-old Gujjar girl in the Kathua district has again created a divide among the two regions, Jammu and Kashmir, on communal and political lines.
Several Jammu-based social, religious and political organisations are demanding that the case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as they were visualising a “design” in the investigations conducted by the crime branch of the J-K Police.
On the other hand, the Kashmir-centric parties and the separatists were accusing the Jammu Bar Association and other organisations of trying to help the rapists and killers of the girl.
The Jammu-based organisations are accusing those in the Kashmir valley of trying to communalise the issue as no one had ever tried to block the investigations and their only demand was to hand over the case to the CBI.
BS Salathia, President of the Bar Association, said that the culprits should be given harshest possible punishment but only after the case was properly investigated by the CBI. However, now the court will look into the case as the crime branch has filed the chargesheet.
The minor girl was allegedly raped and subsequently murdered and her body was traced on 17 January when the heinous crime against the child generated heat in both Houses of the legislature that had met for the budget session.
However, the case started getting a communal tinge with passage of time and the Valley-based separatists also jumped in to add fuel to the fire.
Unfortunately, a narrative has been created as if those seeking CBI investigation were trying to defend the rapists and killers of the child.
The striking lawyers of Kathua have clarified earlier this week that they tried to block the crime branch personnel from filing the chargesheet in the court not in a bid to support the culprits but to press for the demand of a CBI inquiry as they were not satisfied with the way the crime branch investigated the case. Some of those named as accused or witnesses have alleged that they were tortured by men of the crime branch.
Instead of allowing the police to handle the case as a heinous crime against the child, attempts were being made to give it a Hindu-Muslim twist.
The opposition National Conference and some other parties are also demanding that the two BJP ministers, Lal Singh and Chander Parkash Ganga, who supported the demand for a CBI inquiry, should be dismissed from the cabinet.
These ministers had visited Hiranagar and supported the demand of the Hindu Ekta Manch that was spearheading an agitation against the crime branch whom it accused of harassing innocent people belonging to the other community.
The minister of state in the PMO, Jitendera Singh, had also said that there was no harm in handing over the case to the CBI if the people were not satisfied with the investigations of the crime branch.
The way regional politics has cast its shadow on the case, it reflects the mistrust that has deepened among the two regions of J-K.