Eight-Year-Old Rape Spreads Outrage Across The Country

Eight-Year-Old Rape Spreads Outrage Across The Country

"One after the other, women are attacked and girls are raped".

Modi has yet to speak out on the rapes, which have drawn conflicted responses among the lower ranks of his own Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Pujwala belongs to a community of Muslims nomadic shepherds called Gujjars who crisscross the Himalayas with their goats and buffaloes. But in recent years, some Hindus in the Kathua area have begun a campaign of abuse against the nomads.

In justifying the Hindu Unity Council's defense of the accused, Vijay Sharma, the council's leader, claimed the state government had adopted a soft stance on the region's minority Muslim population.

Hindus claimed the herders were encroaching on their lands and there had been scuffles after nomadic girls had been allegedly harassed by Hindu men. The incident has sparked unrest between the Hindu and Muslim residents of the village, spurred on by communal politicians who have clearly lost their moral compasses.

"The crisis has especially deepened since the BJP has come to the power and some fanatic Hindus in Jammu have communally polarized the atmosphere", he said. "The girl is a Muslim and the investigators are Muslim", said Rakesh Singh, a local BJP leader.

"Can't think straight as more chilling details on little Asifa's case emerge...her innocent face refuses to leave me".

NDTV reported that the mastermind behind this plan is Sanji Ram, a temple caretaker, who planned the rape and subsequent murder with the aim to dislodge the Bakherwal community from Rasana.

Eventually, her corpse was thrown into the forest.

Sexual crimes in India have faced growing scrutiny since the gang rape and murder of a Delhi student in 2012. They said Singh was attacked by the lawmaker and a group of men, including Sengar's brother, last Tuesday after they "barged" into the family's home.

Several BJP officials have rushed to the suspects' defence, organising marches against their detention, while lawyers of Jammu's Bar Association blocked the entrance to a local court to prevent the police from filing charges against the suspects.

Police have arrested eight men, including a retired government official, four police officers and a juvenile in connection with Asifa's death. She was strangled to death, hit on the head twice with a stone and then her small mutilated body was dumped in the forest. Two other policemen were arrested for attempts to destroy evidence.

But rather than quell tensions, the swift police action has had the opposite effect, transforming the case into a lightning rod for radical sectarian anger.

"Too many BJP supporters seem willing to abandon their tough stand on sexual violence on the basis of religious prejudice".

The chargesheet says that caretaker of the temple, where the 8-year-old Asifa was gang-raped is the main conspirator.

The politics over a child's rape and killing has upset numerous area's Hindu residents too.

"There is only one reason men accused of such a heinous crime have widespread public support: like the majority of people in Kathua, the suspects are Hindu; the girl was a Muslim", wrote Samar Halarnkar in the Scroll on Thursday. "My only demand is that the government should work to create an atmosphere where women and girls of this country can live peacefully and without any fear", Rahul Gandhi said while talking to reporters.

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