#MuchWow: Former BJP Leader To Defend Kathua Rape Accused In Court, For Free

The leader served as transport minister in SAD-BJP coalition government

A former BJP leader and ex-cabinet minister in Punjab government will represent two accused in the Kathua gangrape and murder case of an 8-year-old girl, free of cost, a report in Times of India says.

Master Mohan Lal, who currently is a member of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, will appear for the two accused, Sanjhi Ram and his son Vishal. Lal, whose term ended in 2012, has been practicing law at Pathankot district bar since.


Protests against Kathua gangrape in Delhi | Source: Indian Express/Kevin DSouza

Lal, however, has denied any political motive behind taking up the case.

“The accused had approached me. They are like any other client and I will fight to prove their innocence,” Lal, who served as a transport minister of Punjab during the SAD-BJP coalition government, told TOI. He also claimed that he doesn’t charge fees to any of his clients.

He will appear before the trial court presided over by Pathankot district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh, the report added.

This is not the first time developments in the case have raised eyebrows.

Last month, Aseem Sawney, one of the lawyers representing Kathua rape accused, was appointed as additional Advocate General of Jammu and Kashmir by the J&K Governor’s administration. After his appointment, Sawney had said he’s not defending the accused anymore.

Kathua, Rape, Murder, J&K

Lawyers protesting the filing of a chargesheet on Monday | Source: Express Archive

In the aftermath of the initial arrests in the case, several BJP politicians had openly rallied in support of the accused. The public support in favour of the accused in the minor’s gangrape and murder had triggered an outrage across the country with opposition parties hitting out at BJP for “supporting rapists.” The outrage finally led to the resignation of two BJP ministers – Chandra Prakash Ganga and Chaudhary Lal Singh – from J&K Government.

An eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl had gone missing in Kathua district of Jammu in January this year while tending to her family’s horses. According to the investigation by J&K Police’s Crime Branch, the girl was allegedly abducted and confined in a temple using sedatives. The girl was subsequently tortured, gang-raped and killed before being dumped in a nearby jungle. Her body was found after a week on January 17.