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Hours After Being Sworn in, J&K Deputy CM Says Kathua Gang-rape and Murder a 'Small Incident'

Kavinder Gupta said such a an incident should not be repeated again, but this case has been given undue importance.


Updated:May 1, 2018, 4:08 PM IST

Jammu: Just hours after being sworn in, the deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir sparked a controversy by calling the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua that has the entire nation seething in anger a “small incident”.

Speaking to the press in Jammu after being named the number two in the state cabinet, Kavinder Gupta said, “Kathua maamla ek choti si baat hai usko itni tuul deni nahi chahiye [The Kathua incident was a small thing, it shouldn’t have been given all this hype].”

When pressed further on the issue, Gupta said, “We should ensure that incident like this should not be repeated again. We need to get the girl [the deceased victim of gang-rape and murder] justice. These are some of the biggest challenges before the government today. I think the Rassana case was not a …. we have given undue importance to this case I feel.”

Issuing a clarification, Gupta later said that the Kathua issue “is subjudice, and I want that the culprits get punishment”. “I said there are other issues also and we should keep faith in judiciary and incidents like Kathua should not happen again,” he said.

Gupta was a three-time mayor of Jammu for three terms between 2005 and 2010. He contested the state elections for the first time from Gandhinagar in 2014 and won after defeating a Congress candidate.

He had sparked a row recently by claiming that Rohingyas who settled near the Sunjwan army camp were involved in the terror attack carried out in February this year. Eleven people - six Indian army soldiers, one civilian and four militants – had died in the attack.

Another member of the new Cabinet has also been controversial. BJP MLA from Kathua – Rajiv Jasrotia – who went “missing” earlier this month following the huge public outrage over the gang-rape and murder of eight year old Bakarwal girl. Jasrotia allegedly attended the rally supporting the Kathua accused.

His addition to the Cabinet is being seen as a move to placate supporters who resented the ouster of ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, who attended a rally in support of the alleged rapists and murderers of the victim in Kathua.

The mid-term reshuffle of the Jammu and Kashmir cabinet was expedited by the outrage over Kathua rape and murder, but the new ministers have only added to the controversy.

Eight ministers, including six from BJP and two from PDP were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor NN Vohra at Jammu’s convention centre on Monday. The 25-member strong state cabinet has 14 PDP ministers and 11 ministers from the BJP.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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