Govt says SHO shifted out, suspended
Jammu: As the clock struck 11:45 am in the Legislative Assembly on Saturday, the Congress party’s Usman Majeed raised a “point of information”, asking the government to explain how a 15-year-old boy, a minor according to the government’s age rules, could abduct a girl for seven days and then murder her without anyone’s support.
This statement was seconded by National Conference (NC) and other Congress MLAs who proceeded to hold the House an apparent hostage until the government gave in and announced that the SHO concerned would be placed under suspension.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta said that everyone in the House was concerned about the incident.
On January 10, an eight-year-old girl, Asifa Bano, was abducted, sexually assaulted and brutally murdered in Rasana area of Kathua district. Her dead body was found some three kilometres from her home on January 17. The government said she went missing on January 12. Her father had filed a missing report with the police as well.
A week after her abduction, the police formed an SIT and on Friday claimed that a minor boy had confessed to the crime.
On Saturday, the opposition MLAs were on their feet in the House and even staged protests in the well, pressing the government to suspend the SHO, DySP and SP of the area till the probe is complete. On Friday, the government had announced a magisterial enquiry by a DC-rank officer.
“A magisterial enquiry will be conducted, and whosoever will be found guilty will be punished even if they are from police or civil administration,” Parliamentary Affairs minister Abdul Rehman Veeri told the House. However, this did not cause the protests to abate, which continued with opposition MLAs warning the Speaker that they would not allow the House to run until the cops were suspended and placed under transparent investigation.
Amid slogans of “Laadli beti ko insaaf do (justice for the darling daughter)” and “Qaatil ko faansi do (hang the murderer)”, the NC’s Ali Mohammad Sagar demanded the policemen’s immediate suspension. “If they are not guilty, they will be free,” Sagar said of the SHO and Dy SP.
“Did any cop visit the area during the abduction of the girl?” he asked the government. “You are insensitive, careless and irresponsible,” Sagar told the treasury benches. He added that protests were held against the gruesome murder at many places on Friday; “so as to avoid further tensions, cops must be suspended,” he said.
The opposition members picked holes in the investigations carried out so far and questioned how a minor could abduct a girl for a week and that too from the centre of a village.
Usman Majeed told the House that the girl had been abducted from a cowshed which is located in the village centre. “How is it possible that a 15-year-old will abduct a girl without support and complicity of others? Even police did not go to the village, people knew what was happening,” he told the House. “It is a conspiracy along with the police, and I smell a rat in the investigations.”
NC MLA Abdul Majeed Larmi alleged that it was a conspiracy so as to remove the minority community from the area.
NC’s Mian Altaf and Congress’ G M Saroori wondered why the police did not act for seven days after the girl was abducted, even after her family had registered the case.
Saroori said, “The whole world is watching whatever has happened with this innocent girl. No one can do this crime all alone… It is shame on this government.”
Usman Majeed told the government, “Send a strong message to police department that such lapses in duty won’t be accepted.”
Amid “Laadli beti ko insaaf do” slogans by Congress’ Deldan Namgyal, the NC and Congress MLAs sought the Chief Minister’s intervention in the horrendous case. “Chief Minister should issue a statement by herself in the case,” Congress MLA Vikar Rasool demanded.
Pressing for the suspension of the cops, independent MLA Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen told the government: “Suspend the cops as they have not acted for eight days. This will restore faith and trust in the system and will be good for a transparent probe. It is not a political issue but a human one. It will be an example for other police officials.”
Vikar Rasool also referred to the silence of the BJP MLAs on the issue. “The home town of the slain girl is situated in a BJP minister’s constituency, but even after four days have passed when the issue was raised in the House, BJP members are silent,” he told the Assembly.
At this, the BJP’s Rajiv Jasrotia alleged that the opposition was giving it a regional colour, which enraged the opposition members. “We are not communal nor do we have regional bias,” the opposition told the BJP in one voice. “Don’t give us sermons,” the BJP was told by NC and Congress members. However, Jasrotia had said that the BJP shared the concern.
NC’s Mian Altaf told the House: “It is human issue; we do not want to give it a communal or regional colour. We do not want situation to deteriorate, but BJP should never have said that it was a regional issue.”
“The issue should have been raised by the local MLA, but ironically the BJP members are silently listening to all this and ironically (they) are critiquing us,” Vikar said.
Watching the verbal duel between BJP and opposition members, PDP ministers Veeri and Javed Mustafa Mir walked one after the other, reached their BJP allies and asked them to “shut (their) mouth”.
At around 12:20 pm, Mir reminded the House that he too is the father of a daughter, going on to assure the Assembly: “SHO will be suspended till the probe is completed.”
The statement calmed the situation although the opposition remained adamant. Usman sniffed “laughter from BJP” and he rushed to the well pointing towards the BJP MLAs. “They are making us laughing stock,” he told Veeri.
In his statement, minister Veeri termed the incident brutal. “It is not an issue of politics but a human issue, and we have ordered a magisterial enquiry. Whoever is found guilty will be punished even if he/she is from police or civil administration.”
“We cracked the case in 24 hours,” Veeri said about the “confession of the minor boy”. “If you see any loophole in the case, please tell us, we are here till up to February 12.”