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SC declining CBI probe plea a severe jolt to BJP

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By Nisar Dharma

Srinagar, May 07: The Supreme Court declining to entertain the demand for a CBI probe in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Bakerwal girl in Kathua has come as a big jolt to BJP whose ministers and members have been openly demanding a CBI probe and criticising the state Crime Branch’s investigation.
On Monday, the Apex Court transferred the case from Kathua to Pathankot district and sessions court and rejected any need for a CBI probe in it.
The decision must have been a shocker for BJP, a party who all through the Crime Branch’s investigation had made it a prestige point to nullify it while ranting for a CBI probe.
Among the major BJP leaders who openly called for CBI investigation was Dr Jitendra Singh, the MoS in PMO office.
In April, two senior BJP leaders and former cabinet ministers, Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, too were seen openly castigating the state probe and supporting the demand for a CBI inquiry in a rally organised by Hindu Ekta Manch, a right-wing group formed to shield the accused in the rape and murder case.
The speaker-turned-Deputy Minister of State Kavinder Gupta, a staunch RSS man since his teens, too had openly supported the CBI inquiry.
Bar Council of India, whose Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra is a declared BJP man, had told Supreme Court that lawyers in Kathua did not obstruct justice in the case and their demand for a CBI investigation into the matter was “justified”.
The top court had earlier pulled up the Jammu lawyers for obstructing the legal process.
On April 13, the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the lawyers of Jammu and Kathua bar associations preventing the police from entering the court and preventing the family’s lawyer from appearing in the case.
Apart from employing persistent pressure-building tactics, a group of lawyers and so-called activists, who had complete BJP backing, were sent to Kathua to come up with a report that questioned the Crime Branch investigation and chargesheet.
In fact, the BJP’s J&K unit Friday uploaded a video on its official website of the advocate who was part of that group, questioning the Crime Branch’s investigation and arrests.
After uploading the video labelled “A big expose on Kathua facts” and featuring advocate Monika Arora in the evening, the party’s IT cell also issued appeals on WhatsApp groups to share the clip on social networking sites.
Arora was part of an “independent” five-member team that recently visited Jammu on “a fact-finding mission” into the rape and murder in Rasana village. Its other members included Meera Khadkkar, retired district judge, Nagpur; Sarjana Sharma, Kashmir journalist; Sonali Chitalkar, assistant professor, Department of Political Science, Miranda House, Delhi University; and, Monicca Agarwaal, a social activist.
The team based the report on the testimonies of families of the accused, their lawyer Ankur Sharma and the Jammu Bar Association whose associates, the Kathua Bar Association, had last month allegedly tried to prevent J&K police from filing its charge sheet in court.
The group didn’t meet the family of the victim or the Muslim Bakarwal community and haven’t mentioned them in their report. The group has included photos of their meeting with Mufti and J&K Minister Zulfikar Choudhary but didn’t include their views in the report.
BJP’s J&K spokesperson Sunil Sethi said the fact-finding committee has submitted its report to Minister of State in the PMO Dr Jitendra Singh Thursday. “Because the report has been given to the government, we uploaded it on our website. However, it does not mean that we are accepting the report,’’ Sethi said.