Maneka Gandhi to ask for death penalty in child rape cases


NEW DELHI, April 13: A “deeply, deeply disturbed” Maneka Gandhi said today that she intends to ask for the death penalty for those who rape children below 12 years of age.
The women and child development minister’s comment, in a video released today, comes amid a groundswell of horror at the bid to communalise the gory gang rape and murder of eight-year-old Asifa in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua, and another incident of rape in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
“Am deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua, and all the recent rape cases. I and the ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO Act asking for the death penalty for the rape of children below 12 years of age,” said Maneka.
POCSO is the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. It was framed to protect children from offenses of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography and to provide a child-friendly system for the trial of these offences.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti + also said yesterday that her government would enact a law to make rape of minors punishable by death.
“We will never ever let another child suffer in this way,” she tweeted.
Yesterday, another Union minister, VK Singh, also tweeted his horror at the Kathua atrocity.
“We have failed Ashifa (sic) as humans. But she will not be denied justice,” Singh tweeted.
Asifa, who belonged to a nomad Muslim community, had been held captive, sedated and raped for several days at a temple before she was murdered at Rassana village in Kathua district, according to the J&K Police crime branch investigation based on DNA test, forensic evidence and post-mortem report.
The body of the eight-year-old was recovered from Rassana forest on January 17, a week after she had gone missing while grazing horses in the area. The state government handed over the case to the crime branch following massive protests in the state.
The accused, including the mastermind Sanji Ramthe, his son Vishal, sub-inspector Anand Dutta, two Special Police Officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, head constable Tilak Raj and civilian Parvesh Kumar, were booked under Sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of Ranbir Penal Code. (TNN)