Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is believed to have refused from handing over the Kathua rape and murder case of a minor girl from J&K Police’s crime branch to the CBI. Earlier, Union minister Jitendra Singh had supported voices within the BJP that batted for handing over the case to a Central agency. The minor girl was from Rasana village of Hira Nagar in Kathua, Jammu.

Opposition leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, while taking a jibe on CM Mehbooba Mufti, tweeted that if she agrees to handover the case to the CBI, “it will be another installment in the price she is paying to remain CM”.

PDP general secretary Rafi Ahmad Mir told the media that it was unfortunate that a tragic case of rape and murder of a minor girl was being communalised. “Our Chief Minister has told categorically that no criminal would be allowed to hide behind the tricolour or under the umbrella of ‘nationalism’. We will not allow any criminal to take refuge under any organisation,” a PDP minister and senior leader of the party told this reporter on the condition of anonymity. He said that the Crime Branch was moving in the right direction and they are about to “crack the case”.

Hindu Ekta Munch (HEM), the organisation whose volunteers recently held protests carrying the tricolour in their hands, has claimed that CM Mehbooba Mufti was acting in a sectarian manner. Their demand was supported on 20 February by Union Minister Jitendra Singh. Singh said that there was no harm in having a CBI enquiry if the people were not satisfied with the Crime Branch’s investigation. He said CM Mehbooba’s tweet regarding the tri-colour rally was her “judgmental remarks”. The courts are yet to decide who is culprit or innocent, he pointed out. Reports said that in a highly surcharged atmosphere in the Jammu region, BJP leaders including Forest Minister Chandhary Lal Singh supported the Hindu Ekta Munch. The ripple effect of the support and agitation led to sharp reaction and protests in the Kashmir Valley as separatists have also chipped in. JKLF Chief Yasin Malik has described the growing acrimony between the PDP and the BJP as a fixed match, while the separatists have warned of mass agitation if the culprits in the case were spared by the government.

Police recovered the body of a minor girl from the Rasana village of Hira Nagar on 17 January, sending shock waves in the society. First, the governments ordered SIT to investigate the crime and then it was followed by a magisterial probe. When the Gujjars alleged that the BJP and other such organisations were interfering in the probe, the Chief Minister, who is also the state Home Minister handed over the case to the Crime Branch. The Crime Branch has arrested two SPOs and one minor. The Crime Branch has claimed that they have “cracked the case”.

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