On Sunday, the horrific gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl child in Jammu is being equated with the gruesome sexual assault and killing in a Delhi bus a few years ago along with other ghastly crimes committed across the country against women including minors.
Though both provoked a public uproar, the Kathua case correlates with the involvement of a BJP legislator and his cronies in the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl and the murder of her father in judicial custody in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district. However, what happened to the eight-year-old girl in Kathua cannot be seen merely through the prism of the routine brutalisation of Indian women by sexual predators or political perfidy on display under Yogi Adityanath’s rule since it has a larger and darker dimension. The fact of the matter is that unlike the horrors inflicted on the Delhi bus victim, Jyoti Singh, and other women and children over the years this was not a stray act of perversion. It was a cold-blooded act planned by former government officials and serving police officers wearing their religion on their sleeve.
They were later backed openly by members of the legal community and politicians belonging to a particular party once again in the name of a particular religion and even the national flag. More disturbingly, the entire motive of this ghastly crime appears to be the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim shepherd community of Bakerwals to which the little girl happened to belong. There is also a sharp contrast between the strictly professional manner with which senior officers of the Jammu and Kashmir Police Crime Branch investigated the case in Kathua and the connivance of the state administration in Uttar Pradesh to protect the politically powerful from charges of rape and murder.