Maneka Gandhi said her Women and Child Development Ministry would move a cabinet note on Monday to amend POCSO, the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act."I have been deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua and all the recent rape cases that have happened on children. I and the ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO Act asking for the death penalty for rape on children below 12 years," said Maneka Gandhi in a video posted on YouTube.
Eight men have been arrested but Hindu groups have rushed to their defence; those arrested are Hindu and the girl's Bakerwal community is Muslim.
Local leaders of the BJP - including two state ministers - and a lawyers' group linked to the Congress campaigned against the arrests. The central leadership of both parties remained silent.
But grisly details of the crime and the horror inflicted on the child described in a police chargesheet submitted in court have dramatically shifted the narrative, three months on.Yesterday, union minister VK Singh became the first central voice from the ruling BJP to call for justice for the murdered girl. Later, Congress president Rahul Gandhi also tweeted and held a midnight march.
Celebrities, sportsmen and thousands others have expressed anguish at the crime and called for toughest action.