We’ll Quit If Justice Not Done To Asifa, Says PDP Minister

Srinagar—PDP’s senior leader and education minister Syed Altaf Bukhari on Saturday said that the party will quit if the government failed to provide justice to Asifa Banu, the 8-year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered in Kathua district of Jammu in January this year. 

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here, the minister also ruled out demand for CBI probe by some groups including BJP, the alliance partner of PDP in ruling coalition in the state.          

“As far as the incident is concerned, it is a highly shameful. Children have no religious and it can happen to anyone. It is highly unfortunate that such an incident took place. We will take it to the logical end, let me assure you,” Bukhari said. 

“We will not spare anybody no matter who stands by somebody or who does not by somebody. This is a humanitarian issue and the day we feel that we cannot provide justice to the girl, you will not see any of us, you won’t see my Chief Minister here,” Bukhari said in a reassuring tone. He was responding to the questions on open challenge thrown to the Chief Minister’s writ by two cabinet ministers– Chander Prakash Ganga, and Chowdary Lal Singh. One of them, Ganga even went on to call ongoing probe by crime branch as ‘Jugle Raj’.       

To other question, Bukhari said the case was handed over to crime branch by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. “Our police are professional one. We are not divided (PDP and BJP). Who will play politics on children? Who will stoop so low? They are also seeking investigation. The investigation is being carried by CB and it will be taken to the logical conclusion,” he added.        

Attending an event organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, a right wing group that opposes the crime branch probe into the brutal rape and murder of Asifa, the two BJP ministers reportedly asked the crime branch of police “not to arrest anyone”.  

Asifa Banu was found dead near her native village Rassana in Hiranagar on January 17 after being missing for a week. Later medical reports confirmed she was raped before murder. 

Kathua Shuts Down For CBI Probe  

With two BJP ministers in the state cabinet having thrown their weight behind it, the campaign to transfer the Kathua rape-and-murder case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has gathered new strength as the town witnessed several protest demonstrations and a shutdown on Saturday against what the organizers termed as “harassment” from state authorities.

The Kathua Bar Association and the newly-formed Hindu Ekta Manch held a sit-in along with various other groups, expressing loss of faith in the Crime Branch investigations which they said had taken the shape of harassment of the local people, reports from Kathua said.

Groups of youth had made rounds of marketplaces and commercial areas the previous evening asking traders to keep their shops and businesses closed on Saturday to support the campaign.

“We are here to press for a CBI probe…We have lost faith in the crime branch investigation as politics is being played under the garb of probe,” Hindu Ekta Manch president Vijay Sharma said at the sit-in, alleging that the investigators were harassing a particular community.   

Bar Association president Anil Andotra stressed that a fair investigation would restore people’s faith in the system.

Two Special Police Officers, Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar, and a 15-year-old boy are in custody in the case involving the abduction, rape and murder of an eight-year-old Bakarwal girl in the Kathua district of the Jammu region in mid-January.

At a rally this Thursday, commerce minister Chander Prakash Ganga and forest minister Lal Singh had openly likened the Crime Branch (CB) investigations to “jungle raj” and declared their support to the campaign to take the case out of the CB’s hands.  

The Hindu Ekta Manch, which came into being around the time the police and the CB made its arrests, has so far taken out several rallies, some of them brandishing the national tricolour to denounce the investigations by state authorities.

The use of the flag had prompted a severe reaction from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who tweeted that it amounted to an insult to the tricolor and its desecration.

Both the state’s opposition parties, the National Conference and the Congress, however, have called upon the CM to take action against two of her cabinet colleagues who, they said, were working to polarize the district on communal lines by questioning the impartiality of the Crime Branch and accusing it of succumbing to “pressure from the other community.”     

Asifa Banu, an eight-year-old Bakarwal girl had gone missing on January 10 from her home in the Rassana village in the Hira Nagar area of the Kathua district, and her body had been found on January 17, after which the police arrested one minor boy.

Two Special Police Officers, Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar, were taken into custody subsequently when with mounting Bakarwal protests over the slow pace of the police investigation, the government first ordered a magisterial probe and later handed the case to the Crime Branch.

According to police authorities, the medical examination of the victim has confirmed that the child had been subjected to rape, and even drugged so as to prevent her from calling for help.(with PTI inputs) 

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