Srinagar: The two cabinet ministers who said lawlessness was prevailing in Jammu’s Kathua area while addressing a rally at Hiranagar organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM), were themselves violating Section 144 of CrPC imposed in the area.
Forest Minister Lal Singh and Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga addressed the HEM rally organised in support of the Hindu police officer accused of rape and murder of a minor Gujjar girl in Kathua district. At the rally, the two ministers accused the Kashmir police of being biased in their investigations against the Hindu community.
The ministers addressed the rally at Kootah with clear communal tones, and at a place where the District Magistrate had imposed Section 144 CrPC on Febuarary 19 to outlaw assembly of more than four persons.
“Yes, the rally and the ministers did violate Section 144,” a senior government official said. “The police acted as mute spectators and did nothing to stop them. The lawmakers who joined the rally acted as law breakers.”
The official said the terrible crime of raping and killing an eight-year-old girl had been turned into a communal issue, first by the HEM, and then by the two ministers.
Kootah is just adjacent to Risana village, from where the Gujjar girl was abducted.
When Kashmir Reader contacted Inspector General of Police (IGP), Jammu, SD Jamwal Singh, to ask why the police allowed the rally to happen, he said, “I do not have any knowledge whether the village where the rally took place comes under Section 144 or not.”
“There are some areas of Hiranagar where Section 144 is declared. I think Deputy Commissioner Kathua will be able to comment on the issue. I do not know if the venue of the rally was under Section 144 or not,” he added.
The Deputy Commissioner Kathua, Rohit Khajuria, could not be reached for his comments.
However, a senior government official in Jammu confirmed that Section 144 was imposed in Kootah and other villages when the rally took place.
At the rally, the two ministers supported the HEM’s demand that the case be handed over to the CBI. They also alleged that the police’s crime branch was carrying out its investigations at the behest of Kashmiris.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the opposition National Conference have both criticised the BJP ministers for taking part in the rally. BJP state general secretary Ashok Kaul told Kashmir Reader that the two ministers did not address the rally. “They just came to meet some 50 people. They wanted to make them understand that the BJP was with them (Hindu Ekta Manch). The culprits should be booked and the accused should be tried. I do not think they broke the Section 144 law,” he said.