Over the past week, hundreds of students across Kashmir, including a large number of women, have been taking to the streets demanding justice for the eight-year-old Bakarwal girl who was raped and murdered in Jammu’s Kathua district this January. Worried that the massive demonstrations might lead to another pro-azadi upsurge on the lines of 2016 and 2017, government forces resorted to heavy teargas shelling and pellet firing to disperse the demonstrators, leading to stone-pelting by students trying to hold their ground. Several protesters were injured by pellets in their eyes.
At a loss to understand why the students are protesting, J&K government spokesperson and PDP leader Naeem Akhtar asked, “What is the occasion for protests and stone-pelting when the (Kathua) case is solved, with the accused in custody and facing trial? Shouldn’t they be attending classes instead?” Education minister Altaf Bukhari, in fact, threatened to close down educational institutions in the Valley if the students didn’t stop protesting.
While Kashmir was being rocked by protests for justice to the raped and murdered girl, Jammu was witness to a procession of another sort on April 19, led by sacked J&K environment and forest minister Chaudhary Lal Singh of the BJP, seeking the transfer of the case from the J&K Police to the CBI. In sharp contrast to the protests in the Valley, there was no attempt to stop the march in Jammu, or the one in Kathua the next day by the J&K National Panthers Party raising the same demand. Lal Singh had resigned along with then industries minister Chander Prakash Ganga after widespread outrage over their participation in the March 1 rally of the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused arrested in the case.
Despite the protests in Kashmir and Jammu taking contrary stands...