Srinagar, Apr 13 (PTI) A meeting of senior leaders of the ruling PDP has been called tomorrow to decide the party’s course of action amid demands to remove two ministers of its ally BJP from the Jammu and Kashmir government for participating in a rally supporting those accused in the rape and killing of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua.

On the eve of the meeting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came out with a statement signed by its senior leader Nizamuddin Bhat in which it blamed the Centre and “hawkish and communal” elements in its coalition partner BJP for failing the purpose of the alliance between the two parties in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The conduct of communal and hawkish elements in BJP is giving serious blow to PDP’s expectations on Kashmir and New Delhi’s own attitudes are failing the purpose of alliance between the two parties,” Bhat, who is considered to be a close aide of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, said.

He said it was time for the party to decide its future course of action, “befitting its sacrifice and hard earned reputation as a guardian of people’s honour and dignity”.

Bhat endorsed the sentiments of Tourism Minister Tasaduq Mufti, who had said that the PDP had become a “partner in crime with the BJP and the gradual schism of state’s residents may lead to unprecedented bloodshed.” Bhat said Tasaduq Mufti has represented the sentiment of the party’s rank and file.

He said he cannot remain quiet just because he is in the government and that the PDP will have to “take one last bow and apologise to people for having unknowingly pushed them into something they did not deserve.” “PDP owes its emergence to avowed objectives of peace, and reconciliation and it cannot commit a sin to defeat the mission of its patron or undermine the sacrifices of its people and party workers by compromising on the basic agenda,” he said.

Bhat said the PDP hoped that the massive mandate to BJP at the national level would be used to the advantage of peace and resolution.

“Similarly, it (PDP) expected that state will witness a sustainable political atmosphere of harmony and shared concerns. Unfortunately, that is seemingly not happening. On the contrary, uncertainty is gripping the state. Conflict is devouring lives and resource,” he said.

Bhat said Mehbooba Mufti was pained with every killing in Kashmir.

“Unfortunately her every hope is belied through perpetual betrayals and the state reels under the shadow of death and destruction,” he said.

Sources within the party said Mehbooba Mufti, who is also President of the PDP, has been holding consultations with senior leaders of the party who have conveyed their displeasure over the statements issued by two the two BJP ministers — Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash and Forest Minister Lal Singh — during a rally in March this year.

“It is too difficult to sit with the same ministers who have been openly supporting people accused of rape,” a senior party leader said on condition of anonymity.

“A meeting of senior party leaders is being held tomorrow and important issues relating to political, party and administration in J&K will be discussed,” PDP chief spokesman Rafi Ahmed Mir said.

The leaders may also discuss the emerging situation in Jammu, he said.

Asked whether Mehbooba Mufti has given an ultimatum to the BJP to sack the two ministers, Mir said it was matter to be discussed between the alliance partners “and after that we well see”.

Ganga and Singh had hit out at the police for arresting “one or the other person at will” in connection with the rape of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua.

The girl, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, had disappeared from a spot near her house in Kathua on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area.

A Special Investigation Team, formed to probe the incident, has arrested eight people, including two special police officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.

Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal rape and murder.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.