Jammu Bar Association Demands CBI Probe Into Kathua Rape Case; Calls For Bandh 

Jammu lawyers protest the chargesheet being filed by the state police. (pic via Twitter)

Accusing the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Police of incompetence and functioning under political pressure, the Jammu High Court Bar Association today (11 April) called for a Jammu Bandh demanding a CBI inquiry into the high profile Kathua rape and murder case, NDTV has reported.

BS Salathia, president of the Jammu Bar Association said, "We have called for a strike and have got support from many organisations. The crime branch team has officers from Kashmir who don't have a good track record. Therefore, we want a CBI inquiry."

The Mehbooba Mufti led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government, however, has defended the state police and has stood by the chargesheet it filed on Monday (9 April).

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"We do not support a CBI probe. Our police officers are competent. They are fighting militancy professionally, how can they not investigate the crime against an eight-year-old girl? They have done the investigation, it is for the court to decide now," said Rafi Mir, chief spokesperson for the PDP.

The case, involving the rape and subsequent murder of an eight year old nomad girl from the Bakerwal tribe, has rocked the state with the J&K government being accused of trying to influence the probe. The girl was reported missing on 10 January and her body was found from the forest a week later. Post-mortem confirmed that the girl had been raped and had died of asphyxiation from being strangulated.

The main accused, Sanji Ram, reportedly masterminded the crime to drive out the Muslim Bakerwal tribals from Jammu’s Rasana village. However, ever since the investigation began, there have been accusations of the state police harassing the Hindu locals and picking up people for questioning randomly. The Hindu locals had to reportedly flee the area due to the J&K police’s “torture and harassment”.

The state Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has called for justice to be delivered in the case, but has supported the demand for a CBI probe into the case.

“A faulty probe won't deliver justice to the victim, which is why we have been demanding the CBI to be given the responsibility to investigate. Why should anybody have problem with that?" said Sunil Sethi, state BJP spokesperson.

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