I can’t sleep at nights these days. Whenever I close my eyes, the innocent face of the eight-year-old girl from Kathua comes in front of me, pleading for justice. Then suddenly, that face turns into my seven-year-old niece and then into my three-year-old nephew. It’s not like this is the first time something like this has happened, but I used to be able to sleep at nights in the past. Then what’s so different in this case?
If we take a deep look at incidents that took place in this case, we can easily understand why it is giving me, you, or anyone anxiety or sleepless nights.
A case that started with a missing little girl and has ended up in so much communal outrage – that’s what different in this case. Otherwise, there have been so many girls and women who died a nameless death.
Having been born and brought up in Jammu, and having lived in an area where Gujjars and Bakarwals live nearby, I can say that Jammu hasn’t witnessed such a communal outrage in a long time. But this case has turned everything.
The people of Jammu are peace-loving humans who can die for humanity. Then what made these people run on roads and chant communal slogans? The day I watched them running on roads like some wild animals with grudges in the eyes was the last day I loved the place I was born.
I have never felt attached to a religion, community or nation. But I always loved Jammu, because it accepts people of almost every ideology, religion or community.
But the rape and murder of the 8-year-old girl has turned the winds of Jammu. Nothing is same after her death. People are full of so much hatred for each other that if given a chance, they will be out to prey on one another. And what’s more astonishing is how people are ready to use anything (sam, dham, dhand, bhedh) to save the skin of “their” people. Yes, you heard it right, their people. Earlier it was our people or people of Jammu but now it’s “their” people. “Their” means Hindu or Muslim or Gujjars or Bakarwals or Gaddi. It can be made out from the U-turns this case took every day.
Starting from the accused being nabbed to blaming it on Rohingya Muslims. From ‘she was raped and murdered by Rohingya Muslims’ to ‘not raped but murdered’. From murdered and raped inside the temple to outside. From the communal march to a candle march by the same bunch of people. From her mother fasting unto death to the victim’s lawyer getting rape threats.
And it’s hard for a common, emotional person like me to believe anything, trust anybody and say anything. Everyone is making their own bread on the pyre of humanity and justice.
I don’t know the truth. Right now, I see her murder in almost every person in Jammu, the media, the government and other people involved. I consider myself guilty too because I was the one who witnessed the death of humanity. I have watched them running on the roads over the dead body of humanity chanting communal slogans. But I did nothing, said nothing. I kept quiet and continued walking on the footpath like it was any other day.
I don’t know how this case is going to end or what the future holds. But one thing I am sure of is that her soul isn’t going to forgive us. What we have done to her is something that will haunt us forever.