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Kathua Gang Rape-Murder of 8-Y-O Girl; Outrage Across India

Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 15:56 (IST)

The gory gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua has sparked outrage and anger across the country.

The mutilated and lifeless body of Asifa Bano, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was found in a forest on Jan. 17 in the Indian-administered region of Kashmir, a mile away from Rasana, the village where her family was currently living.

The story made headlines this week when Hindu right-wing groups protested over the arrest of eight Hindu men.

She was abducted, taken to a Hindu temple nearby, sedated for three days, tortured and brutally gang-raped. She was eventually strangled and hit on the head several times with a stone to ensure that she was dead.

The case has become a religious and political flashpoint in an already polarized India.

The men the police have arrested include a retired government official, four police officers and a minor.

All of them belong to a local Hindu community that has been involved in a land dispute with the Muslim nomads, a group of Indian Sunni Muslims called the Bakarwal, even as the local Hindus who saw them as a threat.

Outrage grew after politicians were silent over the issue and that two ministers from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) even defended the accused and attended a rally to support the accused. They have since resigned.

"We thought we had made progress in preventing violence against women, but this is a cruel reminder of how little has changed," said Jasodhara Dasgupta, human rights activist and founder of SAHAYOG, an advocacy group for gender equality and women's rights based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke out about the case after relentless protest against his silence: "I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice."