Kathua rape-murder case: CM Mehbooba Mufti accepts resignation of BJP ministers present at rally in support of accused

Srinagar 15 Apr 2018

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday accepted the resignation of two controversial BJP ministers, who took part in a rally organised in support of the accused in the Kathua gangrape and murder case. Chander Parkash Ganga and Choudhary Lal Singh, who faced heavy criticism for questioning police role in the case, had tendered their resignation on Friday.

According to officials, the resignations of Lal Singh and Chander Parkash Ganga were received from BJP state chief Sat Sharma this morning which were immediately accepted and forwarded to Governor N N Vohra for completing the procedural formalities.

The latest development came a day after BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said the motive of its ministers in joining the Hindu Ekta Manch protest in support of the Kathua accused was to “dispel misgivings about investigations and reassure people that there will be no harassment of any innocent”. However, he added, “Certain amount of discretion should have been maintained. Certainly, there was lack of discretion. Sometimes, lack of discretion does not amount to a tilt, but the lack of discretion led to a misconception even about the ministers, their own person, and that is why they decided to step down.”

 On Saturday, CM Mufti had warned that the Valley was headed for “chaos” if measures were not taken to contain the anger and discontent of its youth. Speaking at a meeting with her PDP leaders, ministers and legislators, lasting over three hours, Mehbooba said, “The youth here have given enough indication of their anger and discontent over the past several years, even while they gave a chance for democracy to play itself out. But unfortunately, signals were ignored, with the country’s political leadership having either run out of ideas or having reached a dead end. The democratic polity of India must respond to this challenge before the political and humanitarian crisis in Kashmir degenerates into bigger chaos.”

At the same time, the PDP termed the resignation of two BJP ministers in the matter of the Kathua rape-and-murder case as a confidence-building measure that would strengthen the alliance.

However, both the ministers denied that they sought the transfer of the investigation from J&K Police to the CBI when they had gone to Hiranagar, a town in Kathua district where they took part in the rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, last month. “I never supported their (people’s) demand for CBI inquiry, except (telling them) that I will convey it to the Chief Minister. On return, we conveyed this demand to (J&K party chief) Sharma, and also to the Chief Minister. She (Mehbooba Mufti) assured us of fair investigations by the Crime Branch, and said that the probe was nearing completion,” Ganga said.

They further claimed that the two were asked to visit Hiranagar by the BJP state president Sat Sharma with the purpose to meet the people in the village and pacify them. “Thousands of people had gathered there (in Hiranagar), and this (CBI probe) was also the demand of lakhs of people in Kathua district,” Ganga said. “I said that we will put forth their demand before the Chief Minister.”

Explaining the reason behind resigning, Ganga said, “We felt that the image of the party and the Prime Minister was at stake under the conspiracy going on. We felt it better (to submit our resignations) to save their image from getting tarnished…. We were not under any pressure.”

A day after stepping down, the two former minister demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter. Chander Parkash Ganga on Saturday said, “I will not hesitate to fight even the government to safeguard the interests of people of Jammu, or meet the Prime Minister and reiterate the demand for a CBI probe.” ( Indian Express )