I get chills down my spine every time I see the picture of the wide-eyed, 8-year-old rape victim on the internet. The girl, who could not even tell the difference between left and right, became the target of communal hatred in Kathua district, Jammu.
This was a crime plotted to increase the feeling of vulnerability against the Bakarwal nomadic community and drive them out of the area. The brutality faced by the girl is something no one can even begin to understand. Gang-raped, starved, sedated, murdered, she had no idea what fate held for her.
The police have arrested the eight accused. The alleged mastermind of this horrific crime was Sanji Ram, an ex revenue official, who was in charge of a local temple. He had also bribed the local police officials to cover up the crime. Four policemen and one juvenile were involved in the case.
The girl was kept in the local temple, and raped by at least three of the accused. One of the accused allegedly stopped the others midway in their attempt to kill her, so that he could rape her for the one last time. According to police chargesheet, the person in question was special officer Deepak Khajuria.
What’s more saddening is the fact that a certain section of the society has turned a blind eye towards the brutality faced by this child. Is religion above humanity? Fringe groups like the Hindu Ekta Manch, a platform affiliated with the Sangh Parivar, organised an event to protest against the arrest of one of the accused. The protest was attended by BJP MLAs Chandra Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh. Both the MLAs were in the Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet and resigned later today.
These ministers had addressed the rally and called the police action against the accused as a “Jungle Raj”. Lal Singh also reportedly said, “If you launch an agitation, do it with full force or sit at home. What’s this Section 144? This one girl has died, and there is so much investigation. There have been many deaths of women here.”
The Jammu Bar Association also protested against the investigation and demanded a CBI probe. Earlier this week, the association agitated on the streets to delay the filing of the chargesheet by the police personnel.
People were seen shamelessly marching on the streets, while waving the tricolour and singing patriotic songs. The president of the Bar Association B.S Salathia warned the government that the youth of Jammu who were carrying the tricolour could also pick up an AK-47 if their demands are not met. He also allegedly threatened the lawyer representing the victim. Such actions of lawmakers and lawyers raise a lot of concern.
It’s just disgusting to see such polarisation in the society, where some people can’t even look past a person’s religion or community. Instead of seeing it as an act of brutality against a child, certain groups of people are justifying it as a communal incident.
According to them, “accusing Hindus of raping a Muslim is an attempt to give communal colour to a rape incident.” Therefore, they demand a CBI enquiry. This brutal crime has polarised the normally peaceful town of Jammu, with the local Bar Association calling for a bandh against what it termed the “targeting of minority Dogras”.
The idea of Hindutva and communal politics led to this incident in Jammu. Even the Prime Minister chose to remain silent on this act of barbarity until it was too late.
Talking about justice, in another rape case against a BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the Allahabad High Court had to give an order to the police who failed to take action against the alleged accused, despite an FIR being lodged against him. The incident took place in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh. The father of the victim has also died in police custody. The high court said that the approach of the UP administration approach to the Unnao incident is “not only appalling but shocks the conscience of the court.”
Despite campaigns like “Beti Bachao, Beti Badhao” and the talks about women empowerment, women and children have to go through such inhumane acts. As if this wasn’t enough, the accused are being supported by the people and BJP leaders, ignoring the trauma the victims went through.