Kavinder Gupta's comments downplaying Kathua rape case draw widespread censure from PDP, Opposition

Jammu and Kashmir's deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta on Monday, just hours after being sworn in, said the Kathua rape and murder case was a 'small incident.' His comment drew a furious reaction from the BJP's alliance partner PDP. While some PDP leaders termed the statement as 'unfortunate', some said that it reflected the BJP's anti-Muslim stance.

PDP chief spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir said that the comment was unfortunate and the incident cannot be described as a minor one. “Our stand is clear both at the party level and at the government level that the statement is very wrong. However, it can be his (Gupta’s) personal view. The rape of a minor girl in Kathua was seen a major issue, and an unfortunate one, throughout the country as well as globally."

The BJP has also come under attack for inducting Kathua MLA Rajeev Jasrotia in the council of ministers. Jasrotia had taken part in the rally which was organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM) in support of the accused in the rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua. However, PDP spokesperson Mir said that unlike Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, there was no record that Jasrotia had sought for stopping the Crime Branch's investigation in the case. Also, according to Mir, he went to the rally as an MLA, while those who were dropped were holding a position in the government. "As (Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga) were ministers, their own own party took cognisance of the matter," Mir said.

Kavinder Guptas comments downplaying Kathua rape case draw widespread censure from PDP, Opposition

Kavinder Gupta along with Governor NN Vohra and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

Congress vice president in the state Ghulam Nabi Monga said that Gupta has betrayed his anti-Muslim stance and that he is a known RSS man. “As Speaker, he used to say that I am a proud RSS man," he recalled.

Commenting on Gupta's statement, he said, "This is really shocking and shameful. How can the rape of a minor girl be a minor incident? This statement is highly condemnable. It speaks of the agenda of the BJP, which has totally communalised the situation. This is a human issue...Kavinder Gupta has always been known to have an anti-Muslim stance.”

Monga said that there has always been a mismatch between the deeds and words of the BJP. “All this is being done by the RSS and BJP,” he said, adding that Gupta appears to be the deputy chief minister of the RSS, rather than of the people. The Congress party later asked the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to clarify her stance over the issue.

Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) chairman Hakeem Yaseen said that it was 'highly condemnable' to describe the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl as a minor incident. He said that the comment was made to polarise the situation in the state. “This is unfortunate. It is a matter of grave concern when we describe the rape and murder of a girl child as a minor incident. This statement was made by Kavinder Gupta on the day when he took oath.”

Independent MLA Engineer Rashid said that the comments by Gupta showed that the government has been supporting the accused in the rape and murder of the girl.

“Kavinder Gupta’s statement that the Kuthua incident was a small one deserves condemnation. It proves that the only purpose of Monday's cabinet reshuffle was to appease forces close to the Hindu Ekta Manch. It is obvious now that the induction of Rajeev Jasrotia into the cabinet and the insulting words of Kavinder Gupta have exposed both the BJP and PDP,” said Rashid.

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Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 22:37:16 IST

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