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Kathua outrage has united nation: Mehbooba Mufti

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Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday accepted the resignations of the two BJP Ministers who had participated in a rally in support of those arrested in connection with the rape-cum-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

The acceptance of resignations came amid public protests in major metropolitan cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, demanding justice for the rape victims in Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao.

The resignations of Ministers Choudhary Lal Singh and Chandar Prakash Ganga, sent through BJP State chief Sat Sharma, were immediately accepted by the Chief Minister and forwarded to Governor N.N. Vohra for completing procedural formalities. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav had on Saturday said the resignations would be forwarded for further action.

Mr. Singh and Mr. Ganga had addressed the rally of the Hindu Ekta Manch, a group demanding transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation, on March 4 and defended those arrested by the police.

A much-relieved Chief Minister thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for defusing the situation and said the unfortunate incident had brought the people of the State and the rest of the country “together.”

Call off strike: BCI

In another development on Sunday, the Bar Council of India (BCI) asked the bar associations of Kathua and Jammu to call off their strike and constituted a five-member committee headed by a former High Court Chief Justice to inquire into the alleged misconduct by the lawyers there in connection with the Kathua case.

The decision was taken at the BCI’s general body meeting held in the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s suo motu cognisance of the issue and subsequent issuance of notices to the bar associations and the State government, seeking responses by April 19. On April 13, the SC took cognisance of the alleged efforts made by local lawyers to obstruct the filing of a charge sheet in the case with the intention of derailing the police investigation.

Meanwhile, the trial in the case begins on Monday. Eight persons have been accused of holding the girl in captivity for a week in January this year, during which she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death.

Terming the matter “very sensitive and serious”, the Bar Council of India (BCI) on Sunday said a committee headed by former High Court Chief Justice Tarun Agarwal and comprising two BCI co-chairmen S. Prabakaran and Rameshchandra G. Shah, former Bar Council chief of Uttarakhand Razia Beig, and Patna High Court advocate Naresh Dixit had been set up.

The committee will visit Jammu, Kathua and other places on April 20 to verify the allegations on obstruction of justice. It will interact with members and office-bearers of the bar associations concerned and also with the eight-year-old victim’s relatives.

The BCI has requested the committee to submit its report at the earliest.

“The office was directed to make a request to the Advocate on Record (AOR) in the Supreme Court to pray for a short adjournment, so that the report of the committee could be placed before it,” said a BCI statement.

(With PTI inputs)

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