Kathua case goes awry: 150 villagers held

JAMMU/KATHUA: With the police describing protesters as “trouble-making elements”, around 150 people, including former sarpanches, women and children, were today arrested for violating the prohibitory orders in connection with the ongoing controversy over the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl in Rasana village of Kathua district.

Kathua case goes awry: 150 villagers held

A protest in Hiranagar over arrest of Rasana villagers for allegedly violating prohibitory order. Tribune Photo

editorial@tribune.com

Arteev Sharma & Sanjay Pathak

Tribune News Service

Jammu/Kathua, February 28

With the police describing protesters as “trouble-making elements”, around 150 people, including former sarpanches, women and children, were today arrested for violating the prohibitory orders in connection with the ongoing controversy over the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl in Rasana village of Kathua district.

However, the arrested persons have refused to sign the bail bonds, as sought by the police, for their release. Claiming they were not criminals, the arrested persons said the “suppressive tactics” of the government were only aimed at vitiating the peaceful atmosphere of the area.

In a big embarrassment for the PDP-BJP coalition government, BJP MP Jugal Kishore Sharma accused the government of following the diktat of some “vested elements” to appease them.

Demanding an exemplary punishment for guilty, the MP said the harassment of innocent people in the garb of investigation would not be tolerated. According to reports, a team of Hiranagar police station visited the Ram Lila Ground in the Kootah area today where the families, who had fled Rasana village were staying, and arrested around 150 people, including former sarpanches Kant Kumar and Baghmal Khajuria, for violating Section 144, CrPC, in the area.

As the news spread in the area, over 100 people, led by sapranches of their respective villages, assembled in the Tapyal area and marched towards the police station. They raised slogans against the state government and police for allegedly “harassing” innocent people.

“The government has turned totally insensitive towards our concerns. We are not supporting the accused but this investigation on communal lines is not acceptable. We too want justice for the girl and her family but not at the cost of making innocent people scapegoat,” Vijay Kumar Sharma, Hindu Ekta Manch chief, said.

Sharma alleged Crime Branch officers were allegedly investigating the case on the directions of their political bosses. “We will not sign the bail bonds and will start a hunger strike inside the police station till our demand for a CBI probe in the case is met,” he added.

Meanwhile, the BJP MP said, “We want justice should be delivered to the victim and her family, but harassment of young children in the garb of investigation will not be tolerated. This is shameful for the state government that people have migrated from their village due to the fear of the police.” The body of the minor girl from the Bakerwal community was found from forest area in Rasana village on January 17. The case was handed over to the Crime Branch for investigation. Three persons, including two SPOs and a juvenile, have been arrested so far.


Families fled village, alleging torture

All families from Rasana village had on Tuesday fled to the Kootah area in Kathua for their “safety” alleging “torture and harassment” of their children by Crime Branch officials. dHowever, the police said no migration had taken place and locals had returned on Tuesday evening. “It was merely an attempt by some vested interest to communalise the situation and to put unnecessary pressure on the investigating agency,” the police said.

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