Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday discussed the Kathua gangrape case with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mehbooba Mufti, India Today has learnt, expressed concern that the gangrape is polarising Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said that the sensitive case has now taken communal overtones as the victim is a Muslim and the alleged perpetrators are from the Hindu community.
A source said, “For the first time, Bakarwals feel that they have been targeted because of their religion. Further a report sent to PMO office suggests that Pakistan or even separatist may try to influence the nomad community, who are spread out in almost all districts particularly along the border areas.”
Gujjars and Bakarwals have not picked up guns in the state, but if vested interest exploit the situation, as intelligence reports suggest, things may take a turn for the worse.
The communal overtones given to the Kathua gangrape case could pose a national security concern. Gujjars and Bakarwals have traditionally been known for their pro-India stance. The Bakarwal community has fought alongside the Indian Army against the Pakistani raiders in 1947.
A source in the Mehbooba government said, “While the Centre largely feels that six districts of Kashmir are disturbed, but intelligence reports received post the incident reveal a dangerous trend”.
Mehbooba Mufti, it is learnt, has expressed her displeasure over local BJP leaders Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Singh, both ministers in her government, joining the protest by fringe group Hindu Ekta Manch who are opposed to the action against rape accused, including special police officer Deepak Khajuria.
Even before her Delhi visit yesterday, Mehbooba Mufti had warned the Centre of serious repercussions of politics in the gangrape case. A source said that while the Centre comprehended the issue, the state politicians from BJP played truant.
Sources said that the motive behind the killing was to dislodge the Bakarwal Muslims from Rasana village in Kathua, largely to instil fear in the nomad community and keep the area out of bounds for them.
The crime has sparked tensions among the Gujjar-Bakarwals and the majority community.
While Kashmir is the PDP’s domain, the BJP is largely popular across the Jawahar Tunnel. While Centre backs Mehbooba Mufti when she says that Jammu and Kashmir Police will conduct a fair probe, they know the origin of the problem began with involvement of SPO Khajuria, who was complicit in the crime while two other cops were among those arrested for attempting to destroy evidence.
Mehbooba Mufti assured the Prime Minister of a fair investigation in the Kathua rape and murder. The state crime branch has been handling the case since January 22 even as the BJP leaders in the state have sought a CBI probe.
Mehbooba also met home minister Rajnath Singh before heading back to Kashmir valley.