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Something wrong with our society: Mehbooba on Kathua rape

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Praises Jammuites for upholding inclusive sense, brotherhood; assures justice to victims, punishment to guilty

Jammu, Apr 18: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday lamented the rot in the society where men indulge in rape and murder of a child who she said is a manifestation of the Mother Goddess.

Referring to the shocking abduction, gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in January, the Chief Minister expressed anguish that “a living form of the Mata” has been subjected to such “heinous” act in the land where girls are worshipped as a manifestation of Goddess Durga.

“How can someone do such a cruel thing to a small girl who is a manifestation of Mata Vaishno Devi? There is something wrong with the society,” she said.

Along with President Ram Nath Kovind, Mehbooba while addressing the sixth convocation of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, said the heinous act of the perpetrators “has shocked us as a society” and showed that the value system was facing a crisis.

She batted for inclusion of value education in curriculum, saying “our material growth becomes meaningless, if we are not able to become a good human-beings”.

“The entire set of rituals are practised in this part of the state (Jammu) as Kanya Puja, where minor girls have been worshipped as incarnation of Goddess Durga. How could anybody do such a heinous act against one such living form of ‘Mata’ in her own land,” the Chief Minister said referring to the Kathua rape victim.

She said that Trikuta hills are known as the abode of Goddess Mata Vaishno Devi and are the best testimony of this society and how they are treating the females.

“When we talk of value system, I feel it is under crisis. The recent happening against a weaker underprivileged individual, especially a girl child, was alarming and has shocked us as a society,” she said, adding ” there is something seriously wrong in our changing life system”.

“Our material growth becomes meaningless, if we are not able to become a good human being with compassion and humanity, inclusive sense and set of values which can distinguish us as a civilized society,” she added.

An eight-year-old girl was kidnapped on January 10 and her body was found on January 17 in the Kathua district. During investigation, the State police’s Crime Branch alleged she was drugged and repeatedly raped before being killed. Eight persons, including a juvenile, were arrested in connection with the crime and their trial began yesterday in a court, where they pleaded not guilty. The incident has sparked outrage in the country.

Mufti said apart from imparting scientific and technological knowledge, a university has to inculcate a value system among students.

“Historically we have been known the world over as a creative society but that recognition is lost now,” she lamented, adding the endeavour of her government is to change the situation and “create a knowledge-based society”.

“We must also make value education as integral part of our curriculum,” she said asking the universities to act as nurseries of good citizens and not mere examining bodies that distribute degrees.

She asked the students to innovate and do things differently in order to bring around change for the better.

President Ram Nath Kovind delivered the convocation address while Governor N N Vohra also addressed the gathering.

The Chief Minister said stress should be laid on developing a value system “free from aberrations and excesses against the weak”.

“When we talk of value system, I feel it is under real crisis. The recent happenings against weaker and underprivileged, especially the females are alarming and have shaken us as a society,” she said.

“While the endeavour to create a knowledge-based society must be there, we must also make value education an integral part of all our learning efforts,” she said.

The Chief Minister said Jammu and Kashmir has traditionally been a fountain of knowledge and spirituality and cited Sharda Peeth and Shahdara Sharief, saying they reflects “our deep commitment to knowledge, scholarship and tolerance for differences and ideas”.

Welcoming the President on the occasion, Mehbooba Mufti said “his life, work and struggle represent the best combination of scholarship, talent and wisdom”.

His struggle, against all odds, proves that with hard work, our country offers the very best opportunities to succeed, even to the most deprived sections of our society, she added.

Complimenting the University administration for its academic excellence, the chief minister said Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University is playing a key role in the transformation of the state into a knowledge economy and society.

She pledged support to the University in its mission to pursue education and research. Congratulating the graduating students on the occasion,  Mufti said she visualizes the university, as part of a rich legacy and composite heritage, ushering the state and the society into a new world of peace and prosperity.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister today praised the people of Jammu for upholding the tenets of harmony, inclusive sense, amity and brotherhood despite severe provocations.

Speaking at the civic reception hosted in honour of the visiting President Ram Nath Kovind, the Chief Minister said Jammuites during the toughest phases of past 30 years or so stood up for the tolerant values for which the State has been known since ages, an official press release said.

She said when many people left Kashmir Valley, the people of Jammu not only opened their homes and hearths for them but also shared their resources, supplies and other facilities. Everyone-Gujjars, Paharis, Pandits, Muslims-got space here and are living without any apprehension.

“It’s a rare example of amity which hardly finds any parallels in contemporary world,” she added.

Referring to the rape-and-murder of a minor girl at Kathua, Mehbooba Mufti said she was humbled to see the vehemence with which every section of local society including students, women, children, aged stood up demanding justice for the victim.

“They stood up for justice, irrespective of religious affiliations, for the girl who they said was their own daughter. I salute them for this and for defeating the nefarious designs of vested interests,” she said in her speech.

Sharing the concern of the President on the said incident earlier in the day, the Chief Minister said her government is duty-bound to provide justice to the victim in the case. She said the whole country looks upto Judiciary now to provide speedy justice in the case so that guilty is punished.

“Even the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi termed the incident shameful and sought punishment to the guilty,” she said in her speech.

Mehbooba Mufti thanked the President for visiting the State and hoped that he would visit the State again.

Governor, N N Vohra also spoke on the civic reception.

Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, during his welcome address expressed gratitude to the President for accepting State’s invitation. He said that people will benefit from this opportunity to interact with the President and learn from his vast experience.

The civic reception was attended by First Lady, Savita Kovind; Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar; Speaker, Legislative Assembly, Kavinder Gupta; Chairman, Legislative Council, Haji Anayat Ali; judges of the High Court; former Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah; members of Council of Ministers; MPs; legislators, Chief Secretary, B B Vyas; DGP, Dr. S P Vaid; senior civil and police officers and members of civil society.

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