**Jammu:** The Jammu Bar Association on Thursday reiterated its demand for a CBI probe into the Kathua rape and murder case, asserting that it did not support the accused but wanted a fair probe.
B.S. Slathia, president of the bar association, told the media that attempts were being made to project the lawyers as supporters of the accused against whom the state crime branch has produced a damning charge sheet in the court.
“Lawyers of Jammu are being maligned in order to divide the state on communal lines. All we have been saying is that the investigation of the case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Does anyone say that the CBI is communal,” Slathia asked.
He said the Crime Branch that has been investigating the case has brought an officer from the Kashmir Valley to carry out the probe while the organisation had enough staff in the Jammu region.
“The officer in question has faced murder and rape allegations in the past. We have said the association of this officer with the investigation process has put a question mark on the probe.
“Justice should not only be done, but must also be seen as being done. It is unfortunate that communal motives are being attributed to our demand. The media should report events in an honest manner,” Slathia said .
He said the bar association had never objected to settlements of Muslims from the Valley or the Chenab region in Jammu.
“We have objected to settlement of Rohingyas in Jammu because their presence here has security implications.
“If opposing those who are involved in posing security threats to the country is being communal, then be it,” he added.
In another development state Industries Minister, Chander Prakash Ganga, has accused the media of being unfair in reporting the events.
“We want the culprits to be brought to justice. People were demanding that members of a particular community were being victimised. It was in that context that I spoke to the people there,” the minister said.
He, however, admitted that the Crime Branch has fairly investigated the case and he is satisfied with it.
The minister had participated in the Hindu Ekta Manch meeting that demanded the transfer of the case to the CBI.
An eight-year-old girl was gang raped and murdered by several men, who had held her in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January.
The victim, who belonged to the nomadic Bakarwal Muslim community, had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village, 90 km from Jammu, on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area.
The Jammu and Kashmir police charge sheet has said the main accused Sanji Ram, “the mastermind” of the crime, instigated his minor nephew and six others to execute the ghastly act to drive out the Bakarwal community from Hiranagar tehsil.