The two BJP ministers had addressed a rally in support of the Kathua rape and murder accused

Srinagar/Jammu:  Two BJP ministers who defended the men arrested for raping and murdering an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua today handed in their resignations. With public pressure mounting and the party's image taking a hit, the party asked them to resign, say sources.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had also put her foot down, telling the BJP leadership that their continuation in the government had become untenable.

The resignation letters were handed over to state BJP chief Sat Sharma. The party is holding a meeting of its legislators tomorrow in Jammu to take a final call on resignations and its impact on the alliance with the PDP. Senior BJP leader and one of the key architects of the alliance Ram Madhav is expected to be present in the meeting.

Industries Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga and Forest Minister Lal Singh had addressed a rally in support of the accused by a group called the Hindu Ekta Manch in March.

The group had also taken out a rally with the national flag, trying to communalise the gang-rape and was seen to have received support from state BJP leaders who even passed a resolution calling for punishment to the girl's rapists but stressing that innocents should not be spared.

While Chandra Prakash Ganga had termed the arrest of the accused as "jungle raj" and asked the police not to make further arrests in the case, Lal Singh had incited people to "defy prohibitory orders launch an agitation with full force or sit at home".

But today, Mr Ganga claimed that was satisfied by the probe done by the Crime Branch.

"I personally did not ask for a CBI probe. I am satisfied with the police investigations," he told TheIndianSubcontinent.

Ms Mufti, who had met union home minister Rajnath Singh earlier this week, is said to have expressed her displeasure over the conduct of the two BJP ministers.

It's the moral duty of the BJP to take a call on these ministers and whole country is watching, said PDP leader and minister Imran Ansari.

Earlier in the day, BJP national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said that the two ministers were "misled by the people and should not have protested".

The eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped in January this year, was held captive at a place of worship for nearly a week and raped before she was finally killed, says the Crime Branch that probed the case. Her body was found in a forest near her home.