United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that the Indian authorities should ensure that the perpetrators of the “horrific” Kathua rape and murder case in Kashmir are brought to justice.

UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Friday that he has seen reports about the ‘horrific case’ of the abuse and murder of the nomadic Bakerwal community 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,” he said.

Dujjaric was responding to questions about the UN chief’s reaction to the gruesome rape and murder of an 8-year-old child 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. According to the police, the attack on the minor was rooted in religious politics, with a group of local men planning to scare away the Bakarwals. Forensic reports showed that the victim had been drugged, repeatedly raped, strangled and bludgeoned with a rock. Her corpse was thrown into the forest where it was found a week later.

As the accused were booked for the crime, Hindutva groups rallied in their support, taking out protest marches with the national flag and raising slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, demanding the release of the alleged rapists.

The horrendous crime and the events in its wake shocked the nation and the international community, evoking 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, reported The Times of India (TOI). 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”, TOI reported.

Underlining the political tensions over the case, some BJP members of the PDP-BJP coalition government 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 Chander Prakash Ganga – were made to resign as anger mounted over their support to the accused.

UN Secretary General terms Kathua gangrape and murder horrific, asks India to ensure justice

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 who had quietly allowed all this. On Friday evening, the PM finally broke his silence and assured that “no culprit will be spared, our daughters will definitely get justice.”

Earlier, the BJP had said that both the ministers were ‘misled’ and ‘misguided’ by a few people. “Is it a crime to get misled?” asked BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, adding that the people get misled and this can happen with anyone.

Before this, 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.

The main opposition party National Conference had said that they will consider a civil disobedience movement against the government if they fail to take action against the erring ministers. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah also told CM Mehbooba Mufti to sack the two ministers the way she sacked former Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, reported FreepressKashmir.

Apart from Hindutva organisations, lawyers in Kathua recently tried to prevent the Crime Branch to file the chargesheet in the rape and murder case of the an eight year old girl. However the police, after calling reinforcements filed the chargesheet. The J&K police registered a case against the lawyers for obstructing Crime Branch from filing charge sheet in Kathua rape and murder case at the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Kathua.

The issue reached the Supreme Court which, on Friday, decided to examine the case and issued notice to lawyers’ association and the J&K Bar Council.

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