Chennai, Apr 13 (PTI) The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) today expressed anguish over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl at Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir.

Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, also the AIADMK’s coordinator, described women as the “eyes of the country” and sought strong punishment for those behind the crime.

The sexual assault on the girl and her death was “shocking and distressing”, he said.

“Crimes against girl children are against mankind. Those who did this heinous crime should be given strong punishment,” he said on Twitter.

“Everyone should realise women are the eyes of the country and should uphold womanhood by preventing occurrence of such crimes,” Panneerselvam said.

Haasan, founder-president of the MNM, expressed anguish over the incident, saying he felt “angry” for failing her.

“Does it have to be your own daughter for you to understand? She could’ve been mine,” he tweeted.

Haasan said he felt “angry” as a man, father and as a citizen for “failing” the minor girl.

“I am sorry my child. We didn’t make this country safe enough for you. I’ll fight for justice at least for future kids like you. We mourn you and won’t forget you,” he said.

A nation-wide outrage broke over the rape and killing of the minor girl in Kathua.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi led a midnight march to the India Gate yesterday to protest the Kathua and the Unnao rape cases, saying it was time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to walk the talk on “beti bachao” (save the girl child).

Individuals and civil society members have also expressed concern and anguish over the Kathua incident.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.