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With the BJP’s coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir at stake, and after criticism, not only from opposition parties, but leading Hindi film actors, and other prominent figures, the PM assured that criminals involved in both incidents would not be spared.
Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the Centre might bring an ordinance to reverse the Supreme Court’s “dilution” of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Dalit organisations, opposition parties and the BJP’s own Dalit MPs have been protesting at the government’s “insensitivity” towards community issues.
In J&K, two BJP ministers who had participated in a public rally in support of the men who are accused of drugging and raping an eight-year-old girl in a Kathua temple sent their resignations — not to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti but to the party’s state head, Sat Sharma. The latter said a party meeting is scheduled for Saturday, to decide whether the resignations be sent to the CM.
As for Unnao, the CBI arrested Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the BJP member of the state’s legislative assembly. He is accused of raping a minor girl; earlier, the Allahabad High Court ordered his immediate arrest, saying he was influencing the “law and order machinery”. The CBI had first questioned him. It will also investigate custodial death of the girl’s father.
The PM’s comment and resignation of two BJP ministers from the J&K government came after the CM there, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) head Mehbooba Mufti, indicated her party’s alliance with the BJP might not continue because of the “hawkish and communal” elements in the latter. The PDP is slated to have a meeting on Saturday.
Modi’s comments came a day after Congress president Rahul Gandhi led a march of party workers on Thursday night to India Gate here, to protest at the PM’s lack of comment on these happenings.
In his speech, the PM didn’t actually mention the crimes in Kathua and Unnao. However, his comments suggested the reference was to these. “I want to assure the nation that no criminal will be spared. Justice will be done. Our daughters will get justice.” And, that such happenings shake our sensibilities.
A few hours before Modi’s comments, the Congress chief said, on social media platform Twitter, that the PM’s silence on violence against women and children was “unacceptable”. “Why are accused rapists and murderers protected by the state? India is waiting.”
Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP member of the Lok Sabha from this city, and one of the party’s national spokespersons, defended the two J&K ministers in question, saying they were “misled and misguided”. On whether the party would take action against the two, she said it was not a crime to be misled. “The lesson for them is to allow the law to take its own course before opening your mouth,” Lekhi said.
The MP also claimed that the two cases, Unnao and Kathua, were “selectively” highlighted to target the BJP. She said a similar rape-and-murder of a minor girl in Assam did not get the prominence these two incidents had got. She mentioned the Muslim names of the perpetrators in Assam, where the BJP runs the government.
The Congress accused the BJP of viewing the Kathua and Unnao rape cases through the “prism of religion” and demanded the Uttar Pradesh chief minister be dismissed.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said the Centre remaining a spectator to the Kathua incident would increase the anger of people in an already unstable region. The Samajwadi Party demanded President’s Rule be imposed in UP, due to deteriorating law and order.