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Muslims flee Kashmir village after girl’s rape, murder

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There are no Muslims left in the village of Rasana, which has become a symbol of India’s rape crisis after the brutal murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl blamed on Hindu men, reported Dawn (Pakistan).

Police say the girl was raped and killed as part of an attempt by some of the village’s majority Hindus to evict Bakarwal Muslim nomads, who graze their cattle in the hills in the summer months.

It seems to have worked: the girl’s family have headed for India-held held Kashmir hills under police protection. Other Muslim families in the community of around 100 people all left after the rape in January.

At the empty home of the dead girl’s family, five armed police kept guard half asleep in chairs outside.

Police say the child was drugged, held captive in a Hindu temple for five days, and repeatedly raped before being beaten to death.

Her anonymous grave in orange earth partially covered by weeds is in a nearby village in Kathua district, about 60 kilometres from the region’s main city Jammu.

Media reports said Hindus in Rasana refused to allow the girl to be buried there.

In Rasana, the village’s few remaining inhabitants are reluctant to speak to outsiders.

“Since all this happened, the village has emptied,” according to 39-year-old Yash Paul Sharma, a rare resident willing to talk.

Read: Another arrest in India rape case as outrage mounts over assaults

He said Rasana had gone through a “nightmare” as the place of the killing and the intense scrutiny it has faced since.

The main accused in the case is Sanji Ram, a leader of the rustic pink temple in Rasana where the girl was allegedly held captive.

A minor and a local police constable are among those charged with the killing, while three police officials have been charged with accepting bribes to cover up the case.

Outside the temple, a group of six Muslims had driven six hours from Punjab state in an effort to donate money to the girl’s family.

The killing reflects the hostility encouraged by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Mubeen Farooqi, head of the group. “But now India’s mind is changing with this episode and everyone stands against this sick mentality,” he said.

Explore: BJP is not the only party using rape as a political tool

The rape has sent tensions escalating, with near daily protests in Jammu and other cities across India calling for justice.

On Tuesday, authorities cut internet connections across Jammu because of fears of demonstrations.

The few Muslims who have remained in villages around Rasana are worried. Kaniza Begum, a mother of six, is fearful of allowing her 10-year-old daughter to play in the nearby fields.

“She is no longer allowed outside. If she goes to school, her brother escorts her.”

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Amid massive anger across the country over the numerous rape cases that have surfaced recently, including the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said "rape is rape" and should not be politicized, reported (NDTV India).

"When a child is raped... we cannot compare these incidents in numbers for different governments. Rape is rape... How can we accept this?" PM Modi asked on Wednesday.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been persistently attacking the Prime Minister and his BJP over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases. On Monday, Mr Gandhi had pointed out on Twitter that there were as many as 19,675 cases of rapes of children in 2016.

The prime minister today said that the recent sexual assaults were a matter of shame for India.

"Every time in our country... it is always the woman who is questioned. The person who is committing these crimes is also someone's son... The rape of a (daughter) is a matter of worry, a shame for the country," PM Modi said during an interaction with the Indian community at London's iconic Central Hall Westminster.

The PM was met by hundreds of protesters as he arrived in London today. The protesters displayed photos of the eight-year-old girl from a nomadic Muslim community in Kathua, who was raped and murdered in January, allegedly by a group that included policemen and a former government official.

PM Modi had last week said that justice will be done and no criminal will be spared, referring to the rape case that has sparked outrage across India.

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