SrinagarNotwithstanding worldwide condemnations and Chief Minister Mehbooba Muftis assertions among other local leaders, the newly sworn in deputy chief minister, Kavinder Gupta, on Monday termed the Kathua rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl as a ‘minor incident’.
“Rasana is a chhoti si baat (minor)… We have to think this should never happen again and the child gets justice. There are many challenges like this facing the government. We should not give Rasana so much bhaav(importance),” Gupta said within hours after taking oath as the deputy CM.
The BJP on Monday inducted Kathua MLA Rajiv Jasrotia as a minister in the Jammu and Kashmir government in the cabinet reshuffle, triggering a fresh controversy.
Jastrotia, who took oath along with eight others, was part of the controversial Kathua rally in support of the accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl. Jastrotia was also questioned in connection with the case. He has been assigned same fort folio as was held by the Ch. Lal Singh.
The cabinet reshuffle in the PDP-BJP government led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was in fact necessitated after two BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga were forced to resign earlier this month after they were criticised for taking part in the Kathua rally.
Ganga had later said that he had gone for the Kathua rally on BJPs instructions. He had also said that he had sacrificed himself to protect the partys image.
Besides the Kathua MLA, BJP has also inducted MLAs from the adjoining Sambha, Devinder Kumar Manyal into the cabinet.
Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta was sworn in as the new deputy chief minister in place of Nirmal Singh, who submitted his resignation on Sunday night.
The BJP also upgraded Sunil Sharma, at present minister of state for transport, to the rank of a cabinet minister. BJP legislator Shakti Raj took oath as a minister of state.
The PDP members included in the cabinet were Mohd Khalil Band, MLA from Pulwama, and Mohd Ashraf Mir, MLA from Sonwar.
The BJP has dropped Nirmal Singh, Health Minister Bali Bhagat and Minister of State (MoS) for Tourism Priya Sethi.
Their resignations have been accepted along with that of Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan by Governor N N Vohra, an official said, adding that Sunil Sharma, who was upgraded as cabinet minister, also resigned as MoS.
BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav and MoS in the PMO Jitendra Singh attended the event.
Madhav later maintained that the reshuffle has nothing to do with the Kathua rape and murder case.
Careless Comment, Says Naeem
Reacting to the maiden remark of the new Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta on Kathua rape and murder case senior PDP leader and official spokesman of the government Naeem Akhtar said Kavinder Guptas remark is a careless comment given the fact that the Prime Minister and the President of India have condemned this criminal act in strongest possible words.
Talking to a local news agency Kashmir News Service he said the careless comment by Deputy chief minister is in total contradiction of the statements of the Prime Minister and the President of India and the concern shown even at the international level triggered a change in the law making this criminal act a punishable offence and the punishment to such dastardly crimes is not less than the capital punishment. The grave concern shown by the both the central and the state governments is the passing of an ordinance both at the centre and in the state and the ordinance was widely hailed both within and outside Jammu and Kashmir state. The government has proved that it wont compromise quality of investigation and determination for justice to the Kathua victim.
Omar, Others Attack CM Over Gupta, Jasrotia
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah on Monday hit out at BJP and Mehbooba Mufti for promoting the MLA who reportedly attended the pro-rapist rally in Kathua.
Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta and seven others were sworn in as ministers in the state’s PDP-BJP government led by Mehbooba Mufti.
Gupta will be the new deputy chief minister in place of Nirmal Singh, who submitted his resignation last night, officials said.
The new BJP faces sworn in as ministers were the party’s state unit chief Satpal Sharma and the MLAs from Kathua and adjoining Sambha, Rajiv Jasrotia and Devinder Kumar Manyal, respectively.
Rajeev Jasrotia also evaded questions when asked by the news channel.
Omar Abdullah took to Twitter and expressed his dismay over the promoting of Kathua MLA who had earlier attended the pro-rapist rally organised by Hindu Ekta Munch in Kathua.
“2 BJP ministers removed in J&K for attending a pro-rapist rally & a MLA who is reported to have attended the same rally is promoted as a minister. Why are the BJP/ @MehboobaMufti confused about where they stand on the #Kathua rape,?” Omar said in a tweet.
The reshuffle is the result of BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga resigning from the cabinet earlier this month after they were criticised for taking part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
The NC State Spokesperson meanwhile also strongly condemned the unacceptable and insensitive remarks of Deputy Chief Minister, Kevinder Gupta who has termed the Kathua incident as a small issue. Hitting out at the PDP-BJP Government, the NC Spokesperson said the heinous and heart-rending tragedy in Kathua was anything but a small issue and was a barbaric manifestation of a politics of divisiveness and communalism being practiced by the powers that be. If Kevinder Gupta thinks the Kathua issue was a small issue, then why were two BJP Cabinet Ministers forced to resign after national outrage over their patronage to the divisive Hindu Ekta Manch? Had this been a small issue, Kevinder Gupta wouldnt have been inducted today to fill the vacancies caused by those forced resignations. His remarks are utterly insensitive, outrageous and unacceptable and reveal the deep malice that forms the basis of BJPs politics in the State, the NC Spokesperson said.
Congress leader Priyanka Chaturvedi also took to Twitter and blasted BJP.
“As per news reports BJP MLA who attended the pro-rapist rally in Kathua, Rajeev Jasrotia, is now a minister in the cabinet reshuffle. BJP protects rapists and promotes rape apologists. Shame,” she said.