Asking the state government to give protection to the Muslims living in Jammu, Kashmir's Joint Resistance Leadership on Wednesday demanded capital punishment for the accused involved in the rape and murder of an eight-year old nomad girl in Jammu's Kathua district.
"It has never been seen that educated people and politicians come out, waving tricolor, in support of the rape and murder accused," JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik said addressing a protests rally at Abi Guzar here.
He was referring to a rally carried out by the right wing group Hindu Ekta Manch in Kathua last week in which participants waved tri-color and demanded release of Special Police Officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria, arrested on charges of rape and murder of the girl.
"The JRL including Geelani sahib, Mirwaiz sahib and JKLF resolves to fight for justice to the victim and her family. We demand that all the accused should be hanged," Malik said.
Malik along with chairman Hurriyat Conference-M Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was scheduled to address the press conference at JKLF's office. However police didn't allow Mirwaiz to leave his home.
Later Mirwaiz and Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani addressed the protestors telephonically.
"Today Muslims are being threatened in Jammu and they feel insecure. We warn the government to ensure their protection. Today under the rule of those so-called leaders who would claim to ensure protection to Mujahids, an eight year old girl was raped and murdered and then people were allowed to take out a rally in support of the accused," said Malik.
The rape and murder of the victim has triggered outrage in the Valley with people demanding severe punishment for those involved in the horrifying crime that shook entire J&K.
The girl had gone missing from outside her home in Rassana village in Kathua on January 10, 2018 and her body was spotted by villagers in a nearby forest on January 17.
The subsequent investigation by the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police led to arrest of two special police officers and a juvenile.
The arrest of second SPO came a day after the Manch took out the protest rally demanding release of the accused and transfer of the case to the CBI. The protest was joined by some leaders from BJP and Congress.
"Whatever is happening in Jammu, that people are rallying for rape and murder accused, will be written in the history. It will be blot on their history," said Malik.
Earlier Geelani and Mirwaiz addressed the protestors telephonically. In his address Geelani said "communalisation and politicisation of the rape and murder was deplorable, disgusting and against all ethics".
While appealing people and human rightist groups in Jammu to rally in support of victim's family, Geelani, who is under continuous house arrest, said that Muslim community in Jammu was being "subjected to worst situations".
"It is very disgusting, deplorable and horrific that the rally led by a BJP leader in support of a SPO arrested for rape and murder was provided security," Geelani said. "It conveys disturbing situations."
Slamming administration for their failure, Geelani said the victim could have been saved from the "butchers, if action would have been initiated in time".
Referring to Manch rally Geelani said, "Most disgusting is that while supporting the rapist they wrapped their dogmatic ideology in their national banner and buried it under the debris of their filthy politics".
In his address, Mirwaiz said "efforts by ruling dispensation to shield and provide cover to the real culprits is the biggest irony".
He said incident has left people of all communities in deep shock and grief and "what has hurt the sentiments of people of J&K are the efforts which are being put to hush up the matter by ruling regime's partner, the BJP, which is trying hard to protect the men involved in this gruesome act".
Mirwaiz said that it was ironical that "the RSS and the BJP backed Hindu Ekta Manch was openly carrying out protest marches in favour of accused and threatening boycotts and hartals which reflects their true colors and bias vis-a-vis Kashmir and Muslims of the state".
"It is highly condemnable that culprits and their supporters are threatening and warning poor members of Gujjar community," said Mirwaiz, cautioning that targeting the Gujjar members will have serious repercussions.
Later, led by JKLF chairman, the protestors tried to march towards Lal Chowk. However, a large posse of police that was deployed in Abi Guzar intercepted the march by arresting Malik and other Hurriyat leaders and activists.