SRINAGAR: In a veiled reference to his cabinet colleagues from the BJP, Jammu and Kashmir minister and senior leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, Naeem Akhtar, today regretted the “divisive politics” over the Kathua rape and murder case, which has sent shockwaves across the state.

The brutal rape and murder of the eight year old nomadic girl, whose mangled body was found in Rassana forest of Kathua district on January 17, a week after she went missing, has brought the coalition partners at loggerheads with two BJP ministers demanding a CBI probe into the case.

“It is deplorable that divisive politics is being played by some over the most reprehensible act of rape and murder of an innocent girl,” Akhtar, who is public works minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government, was quoted as saying by the PTI.

Dangerous attempts of polarising situation in otherwise tolerant and inclusive Jammu region over a dastardly act need to be discouraged, he added, in a series of tweets, according to the report.

Akhtar's remarks come in the backdrop of two BJP ministers attending a recent rally in Kathua organized by Hindu Ekta Manch, a self-proclaimed protection group for Hindus, a minority in J&K, formed in the aftermath of the brutal case.

The Manch has been spearheading an agitation in Kathua and adjoining areas to demand a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigations and immediate release of a special police officer, (SPO) arrested in the case.

Three persons, including SPO Deepak Khajuria, another SPO Surinder Kumar and a suspected juvenile have been arrested by the J&K Police crime branch, which was given the charge of the case on January 23.

Reports said J&K’s industries minister Chander Prakash Ganga and forest minister Lal Singh, both from the BJP, attended the rally in Kathua during which Singh is reported to have criticised his own government for asking the crime branch to investigate the case.

Singh and Ganga told the participants of the rally that they would ask chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to transfer the case to the CBI. They extended their support to the group and said they will oppose the “jungle raj”.

“We too want the real accused [to] be punished but we will not allow people to be picked up randomly,” Ganga said, according to a report in News18, “What kind of investigations are they conducting?”

The Kathua police, which initially investigated the case, had arrested the ‘juvenile’ and claimed that he strangulated the victim after she resisted his rape attempt. The accused SPO, Khajuria, was part of the team of investigators.

However, following a public outcry and allegations that the officials were trying to cover up the case, the police arrested the special police officer who is reported to have told his interrogators that he raped and killed the eight-year-old to create fear in the 4000-strong Muslim community in Rassana of Hindu-majority Kathua region.