Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah today demanded a special session of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly to bring in a bill to award capital punishment to those who rape minors. Abduallah’s comment comes in the backdrop of a nationwide condemnation of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua. “Capital punishment must be brought in for such cases,” Abdullah told reporters here.
“She (Kathua rape victim) is just like my daughter. Thank God, today the nation has woken up and they have taken it very seriously. I hope justice will be done and we will bring a bill in the Assembly session wherein (if) any such incident takes place, the hanging must be brought in,” he said. Abdullah was speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting of NC’s provincial committee for Kashmir province at the party headquarters in Nawa-e-Subha. The NC president said the PDP-BJP government should call a special session of the state legislature to pass the bill which would act as a deterrent against such crimes.
“Let the government call a special session of the Assembly just for this thing. When the special session of the Assembly is called and this bill is passed, it will be a great thing for the future… such crimes will not take place,” Abdullah said. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has also said her government would bring a new law to make death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors.
“We will never ever let another child suffer in this way. We will bring a new law that will make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors,” Mehbooba said in a tweet on April 12.
Meanwhile, a statement by the party said that Abdullah, while addressing the party meeting, expressed anguish, grief and pain at the gruesome tragedy in Kathua and demanded “exemplary punishment” for the culprits. Abdullah said the incident was a result of politics involving “the harassment, intimidation and disempowerment of the nomadic Gujjar-Bakerwal communities”.
“Ministers of this government openly threatened the Gujjar-Bakerwal community of dire repercussions and one such minister went to the extent of reminding them of the horrors of the 1947 massacre,” said Abdullah. “The Gujjar-Bakerwal communities have been hounded, targeted and intimidated for nearly three years now while the PDP has remained a mute spectator. Had the PDP objected to this harassment and intimidation, perhaps things would not have come to this tragic pass,” he said.
The NC president said the chief minister’s “silence over repeated attempts to harass and threaten” the Gujjar-Bakerwal communities had emboldened anti-social elements. “..and the consequences are here for all of us to see,” he said. Abdullah said the PDP-BJP alliance had left no stone unturned to divide the people of the state along regional and religious lines for their personal political benefits.
“While the BJP continues to pit the people of Jammu against their brothers and sisters in Kashmir as a deeply divisive and dangerous political strategy, the PDP in Kashmir sought votes against the BJP before aligning with it post elections – eroding the sanctity of its mandate and pushing our youth towards turmoil and disenchantment,” he said.
“The ramifications of this opportunism – of this brazen sellout — have been disastrous,” Abdullah said, adding that the fault lines between various regions of the state had become deeper. “Polarising rhetoric has changed the narrative into an ‘us-versus-them’ debate in respective regions of the state. This is a very dangerous trend and the slide needs to be checked immediately before its too late and the situation becomes irretrievable,” he said.
The NC president also expressed serious concern over the law and order conditions in the state. “The unabated spate of civilian killings is pushing the youth towards a path of unimaginable anger and hostility,” Abdullah said. He asked the party leaders to reach out to youth and give them all possible opportunities to come forward with fresh ideas to take the state out of the “morass of hopelessness, instability and chaos”.