New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday condemned the gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

“After 70 years of independence such an incident occurring in any part of the country is shameful. We have to think what kind of society are we developing. It’s our responsibility to ensure such a thing doesn’t happen to any girl or woman in any part of the country," said President Ram Nath Kovind while addressing the 6th convocation of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University in Kakriyal in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Are we trying to create an environment in which our mother, sisters and daughters are unable to experience justice, equality, independence and friendship? Across the country, our children are being subjected to heinous crime. Recently, an innocent child was murdered in an unimaginable way," the President added.

The intervention by the President comes at a time when opposition parties led by the Congress party have attacked the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, both at the centre and in the state.

It comes within a week of Prime Minister Narendra Modi also speaking on the issue. Addressing an event in Delhi on 13 April, the Prime Minister had said that justice will be done in the rape cases that has rocked the country.

Two members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who were ministers in the Jammu and Kashmir government resigned from the state cabinet after attending a protest meeting in support of the rape accused.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had made clear that the BJP leadership should act against the ministers who had spoken in support of the rape accused.

“How can someone do such a cruel thing to a small girl who is a manifestation of Mata Vaishno Devi; there is something wrong with the society," said Mehbooba Mufti, who was also present at the event on Wednesday.

The resignation of the two BJP ministers has strained relations between the two alliance partners—the BJP and Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party—but senior leaders of the party have said that there is no danger to the alliance.

“President is the constitutional head so he had to speak about the issue which has troubled everyone in the state and in the country. It is the issue which is being talked about by everyone and people have raised their concerns about the case. Any sensitive person would speak against such acts," said Ellora Puri, Jammu-based political analyst and political science professor at Jammu University.

PTI contributed to this story.