Maneka Gandhi to seek death penalty for raping minors


NEW DELHI: As protests grow over the rape of the gangrape and murder of eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on Friday said that her ministry would appeal for the death penalty for culprits under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act.

Maneka said in a video message that she was “deeply, deeply” disturbed by the Kathua rape case adding that her ministry will move a cabinet note on Monday to amend POCSO, the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act.

“I have been deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua and all the recent rape cases that have happened on children. I and the ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO Act asking for the death penalty for rape on children below 12 years,” Maneka Gandhi said in a video statement.

Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had also said that the state government will bring a stringent new law to make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors. She had said that her government will ensure that no other child will ever face such brutality and atrocity. Mehbooba further assured the entire nation that she stands committed to ensuring justice in the Kathua rape and murder case.

There have been strong reactions coming from across the country over the Kathua rape case. Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan also put out a message on the Kathua rape and murder case tendering a personal apology to the 8-year-old victim.

“Does it have 2 b ur own daughter fr u 2 understand? She could’ve been mine. I feel angry as a man, father & a citizen fr failing A$#%,” read Kamal’s tweet. “I m sorry my child v didn’t make this country safe enough fr U. I’ll fight fr justice at least fr future kids like u. V mourn u & won’t forget u,” he had written.

As per the two charge sheets filed by the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police against the eight accused persons including a juvenile held in the case, the victim was held captive inside a ‘Devisthan’, gangraped, kept without food and administered sedatives.

Her cause of death was asphyxia leading to cardio-pulmonary arrest, the investigations revealed. “In the course of investigation, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) members along with Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) experts and naib Tehsildar (executive magistrate) again visited the scene of occurrence and tried to reconstruct the scene of crime,” according to the charge sheet.

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