Srinagar: The district police chief of Kathua was replaced with the police chief of Kulgam district and station house officers (SHOs) of two police stations in Kathua were transferred out on Saturday, in an apparent move to tighten control after ousted BJP minister Lal Singh led rallies this week to denounce the police investigation into the rape and murder of an 8-year-old Gujjar Muslim girl.
An order issued by the police said that Kathua Superintendent of Police (SP) Mohammad Suleman Choudhary had been transferred out and posted in the same rank at the Criminal Intelligence and Vigilance Department. He was replaced by Shridar Patil, Superintendent of Police Kulgam.
The transfer order followed another order to transfer out two SHOs of police stations including Hiranagar, in the jurisdiction of which the gruesome gang rape and murder occurred.
The order said that SHO Hiranagar police station Tikal Raj Bhardwaj and SHO Lakhanpur police station Kulbir Singh had been transferred out in the “interest of administration”.
A senior police official described the transfers as routine.
Lal Singh, who represents the Basholi assembly constituency in Kathua district, openly came out in support of the Hindu Ekta Manch which has been defending the men accused of the heinous crime. He also took potshots at Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, asking her to resign for her “failure” in addressing concerns of the people of Kathua.
Local policemen of Kathua, including a sub-inspector, have been arrested and accused of destroying crucial evidence of the crime. The crime branch investigating the case has said in its chargesheet that the rape and murder was committed as part of a larger conspiracy to drive out the nomadic Gujjar Bakerwal Muslims from Kathua.