The resignation by two J and K ministers belonging to the BJP is a direct fall-out of the ongoing controversy resulting from the rape and murder of an eight-year girl in Kathua, Jammu, last month. The two, Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga and Forests Minister Chaudhary Lal Singh, sent their resignations to the State BJP chief on Friday evening. The two were accused of participating in a rally which sought to protest the police probe into the rape. In all probability, the ministers took the cue from an unambiguous condemnation of the Kathua and Unnao incidents by the prime minister while inaugurating the Ambedkar Memorial in Alipur, Delhi, on Friday evening. Modi reassured the nation that justice will be done. He said, “The incidents being discussed since the past two days cannot be part of a civilised society. As a country, as a society, we all are ashamed of it. I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice.” Without in anyway seeking to lessen the enormity of the gruesome incidents, it needs to be reiterated that both have quite a few grey areas.
The Kathua incident has been exploited by the rival protagonists in Jammu and Kashmir for partisan politics. The mobilisation in Jammu, with the people staging loud protests and the lawyers taking out rallies, reflects the growing unease of the non-Muslim inhabitants against the attempt to change the region’s demographic profile. Aside from a concerted bid to permanently settle the Bakerwal-Gujar Muslims, who traditionally moved as nomads from one place to another along with their cattle, the settlement of the illegal Rohingya immigrants, has generated panic in the non-Muslim population. The rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl, it is alleged, was meant to frighten away the Bakerwals from the region. Ghoulish, yes.
But, sadly, this is what our politics has become in these intensely political times. Indeed, the Unnao rape story, too, has become further curious following the emergence of new details. It seems the victim had actually eloped with her boyfriend a few months ago. After being dumped, a number of criminal cases were lodged by her family against the boy who, too, belonged to Unnao. Apparently, the MLA, who was now in the CBI custody, helped him fend off some of the ‘false’ FIRs lodged by the girl’s family. Sometimes later, the MLA himself was accused of rape. In the media-driven narrative, facts get buried while sensationalism rules. Hopefully, truth will emerge soon and, as the PM said, justice done in both these cases. Meanwhile, the Jammu-Srinagar divide triggered afresh by the rape of the Bakerwal girl has further exposed the fissures in the ruling PDP-BJP alliance. How long it will last one cannot say, but, one can say with conviction that on merit it should not last a day longer.