For new J&K Dy CM Kathua rape case 'small incident'

Tuesday, 01 May, 2018

In an embarrassment to the ruling PDP-BJP alliance, Jammu and Kashmir's new Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta said after being sworn in that the Kathua rape and murder was a "small issue".

Kavinder Gupta, 59, an old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) hand, replaced Nirmal Singh as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's number 2. 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.

The State can have a maximum of 25 Ministers, including the Chief Minister.

The PDP also dropped its senior leader Abdul Haq Khan, the Law and Rural Development Minister, from the cabinet.

All BJP Ministers, except Dr Nirmal Singh, had submitted their resignations to facilitate a reshuffle in the Ministry.

The civil society equally questioned the government for giving cabinet berth to Jasrotia amid huge uproar over Kathua incident countrywide. "I think it is not right for us to give this much importance ( bhav) to the (village name) case", Gupta added. "We should ensure that incidents like this should not be repeated again". The child should get justice. There are so many challenges before the government. The deputy chief minister courted controversy on the first day by referring to Kathua rape and murder of 8-year-old as "minor incident". He has described it as a minor incident. "Our stand is clear both at the party level and at the government level that the statement is very wrong".

From the PDP, Pulwama MLA Mohammed Khalil Band and Sonawar MLA Mohammed Ashraf Mir took oath as ministers. The duo had served as ministers in the PDP-BJP combine earlier when PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was chief minister. Two are from Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Gupta took oath as the new Deputy CM of the state following a cabinet reshuffle.

The BJP leader said the party had planned the reshuffle three years before but had then planned to restrict the number to two or three. "It (Kathua rape and murder) was a small thing".

Jasrotia was inducted into the council of ministers apparently to offset BJP's unpopularity. Two BJP ministers who attended the event had resigned shortly thereafter, paving the way for the reshuffle.

Singh says the Dogra community has been portrayed as "rapists" by the Kashmiri and Delhi media, while the Jammu media has been ignored.

The BJP will now have 11 Ministers, including nine of Cabinet rank and two Ministers of State (Mr Shakti Parihar, new entrant and Ajay Nanda, MoS Finance and Planning).

People's Conference MLA and Social Welfare Minister Sajjad Ghani Lone is also a representative from the BJP quota.

NC says that Mehbooba failed to act when the BJP ministers from her cabinet participated in the Hindu Ekta Manch rally to protect the perpetrators of the disgusting incident of Kathua and her reaction was only after national outrage.