UN Chief Calls Jammu Rape Case ‘Horrific,’ Says Guilty Must Be Held Accountable
The eight-year-old, who belonged to the Bakarwal nomad Muslim community in Jammu and Kashmir, was kidnapped, drugged and raped in January.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir a “horrific” incident, and said that he hoped that Indian authorities will ensure that the guilty are punished.
“I think we’ve seen the media reports of this horrific case, of the abuse and the murder of a young 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,” said Stephane Dujjaric, the spokesperson for Guterres, during a press briefing on April 13. Dujjaric’s statement was in response to a question about the UN chief’s reaction to the rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl that has made international headlines.
The victim belonged to a nomad Muslim community called Bakarwal. In January this year, she was abducted from Kathua’s Rasana village. According to forensic reports, the girl was drugged and raped repeatedly in a prayer hall, where she was confined. She was then hit with a rock, strangled and her corpse was disposed in the forest. It was found a week later. The police had claimed that the rape and murder of the minor had its roots in religious politics as a group of local men tried to scare away the Bakarwal community by abducting the girl.
According to the charge sheet filed by J&K Police’s Crime Branch on April 9, a retired revenue official Sanji Ram, the mastermind of the plot, made a plan in January to scare away the tribal community from the area. Ram then made special police officer Deepak Khajuria, and his juvenile nephew a part of the plan and they allegedly committed the rape and murder of the minor, the Times of India reported.
On Jan. 22, the case was transferred to the crime branch. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Crime Branch was formed to investigate the incident. They arrested eight people, including Khajuria, Ram, his son Vishal, his nephew — said to be juvenile and two police officers who allegedly helped in the crime by destroying the evidence.
Calling the incident a “shame,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on April 13: “I want to assure the nation that no criminal will be spared. Justice will be done. Our daughters will get justice. We all will have to work together to end this internal evil.”
The crime has evoked sharp reactions from all quarters, including social media users, Opposition parties, and international human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Watch that criticized the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for “religious prejudice” to protect the accused in the case, according to the Times of India.