By Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI (AA) - The rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl has sparked outcry in India, with human rights activists demanding justice for the victim.
“It is the fact that there was a political campaign to protect the perpetrators,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, told Anadolu Agency.
The eight-year-old girl from nomadic Muslim herder family was grazing the cattle when she was kidnapped in January. A week later, her raped and mutilated body was found in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The Indian government has in recent years adopted significant legal reforms for sexual violence cases. But major gaps remain in implementation,” Ganguly added.
Rolly Shivhare, a women and child rights activist, believes it is difficult for an ordinary citizen to get justice.
“It is necessary that the government should ensure safety for the family members of the girl and witnesses in the case, otherwise it would be a challenge to bring to book the culprits,” Rolly said.
- Special fast track court
Meanwhile, Muslim leaders are demanding that the case should be tried at a fast track court.
“The government should ensure speedy justice in this case through fast track court. We are demanding death penalty for the culprits,” said Arif Masood, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has written to the chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, requesting setting up of a special fast track court to try the rape and murder of the minor girl.
A number of film personalities have also spoken over the issue, demanding justice for the Kashmiri girl.
Veteran Bollywood actress and politician Hema Malini took to the social media to condemn the incident.
“There should be a national uprising with strong support from the media, against these animals who don't spare even babies and toddlers. I agree with Manekaji (Indian minister) that death penalty should be instantaneous once proven guilty and there should be no bail or pardon, juveniles included, for all rapes," she tweeted.
Kerala police has also registered a case against a former banker for offensive social media posts against the eight-year-old Kathua rape and murder victim.
- BJP ministers resign
Vishnu Nandakumar, former employee of a local private bank, was sacked for posting the comments that said it was "good that she (Kathua girl) was killed now, else she would throw bombs at India tomorrow." He was working as assistant manager in the bank.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence over the issue and condemned the incident.
“I want to assure the nation that no criminal will be spared. Justice will be done. Our daughters will get justice,” he said at an event in New Delhi.
Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, who attended a rally in support of the accused resigned from the Jammu and Kashmir government, India Today reported.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.
*Name of victim withheld to protect privacy
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