People attend a protest in New Delhi, India against the numerous incidence of rape, especially those that victimised minors, in the country. Image Credit: REUTERS

Mumbai: Days after the arrest of a lawmaker from India’s ruling party in connection with the rape of a teenager, another case of the brutal rape and murder of a girl was reported on Sunday in the state of Gujarat in the country’s west.

News of the incident followed days of protests by activists, who have accused authorities of failing to investigate attacks on women across the country. The protests have been driven in part by the BJP lawmaker’s arrest last week for an alleged assault in Uttar Pradesh, which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party governs.

Sunday’s reports concerned an incident that took place on April 5 in the western Gujarat city of Surat, the city’s police commissioner, Satish Sharma, told journalists.

“The body was recovered on April 6 by the side of a highway and according to a post mortem report, the girl was sexually assaulted and murdered on April 5,” Sharma said. He added the victim — who was 11, according to the post-mortem — has not yet been identified and that police from Gujarat’s neighbouring states have been asked to help trace her family.

In the next Delhi Assembly session we will bring amendments to the IPC and CrPC that in case of rape of a minor, the rapist must get death penalty and the trial should be completed within six months."

 - Arvind Kejriwal | Delhi Chief Minister

“We have put our best teams in place with all senior police officials. To nab the criminals we first need to identify the body,” Sharma said.

The post-mortem examination of the girl revealed a case of “strangulation and smothering” with 86 signs of minor injuries, including sexual assault, he said. Some of the injuries were old.

A separate case of gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Jammu and Kashmir has also caused national anger as details emerged of how the girl was kidnapped, drugged and held in captivity as eight Hindu men assaulted her.

The crumpled body of the girl who belonged to a nomadic tribe that roams Kashmir’s mountains was found in January but the case made slow progress until activists stepped up their campaign for an investigation.

The Surat incident took place in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, where he was Chief Minister from 2001 until he took national office in 2014.

The United Nations is among the international bodies that condemned the two earlier incidents.

“We are deeply concerned about the prevalence of gender-based violence, including sexual violence against women and girls, which we are witnessing in India,” Yuri Afanasiev, the UN resident coordinator in India, said in a statement last week.

Protest rallies are being staged all over India on Sunday, with Bollywood actors expected to participate.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday accepted the resignations of two controversial BJP ministers, who had participated in a rally in support of the people arrested in connection with the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl, officials said.

The resignations of Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga were received from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state chief Sat Sharma this morning which were immediately accepted and forwarded to Governor N N Vohra for completing the procedural formalities, they said.

With these resignations, the number of ministers in the state government has come down to 22, including nine from the BJP.

There are three vacancies in the council of ministers as the Mehbooba’s PDP had last month removed its finance minister Haseeb Drabu unceremoniously, they said.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who had held consultations with legislators of the party in Jammu on Saturday, had announced the resignations would be forwarded for further action thereby ending a simmering political crisis in the state.

Both Ganga and Singh had participated in a rally on March 1 after the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police had arrested the nephew of a caretaker of a ‘Devisthan’ (temple) in connection with the kidnapping and rape of the little girl.

During investigation, the police arrested the caretaker and alleged he was the mastermind behind the kidnapping, rape and killing of the girl from a nomadic tribe in Kathua district of the state. The police claimed the motive behind the crime was to terrify the nomadic community and drive it out of the village.

The girl was kidnapped on January 10 and her body was found on January 17. During investigation, the crime branch alleged she was drugged and repeatedly raped before being crushed to death with stones.

Both the ministers had maintained on Saturday that they had been sent by the party to Kathua to understand the ground situation. The two ministers were present in the rally in support of the rape-accused where the tricolour was also waved.

— with inputs from PTI