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Monday, November 28, 2022

Kathua Rape & Murder Case – Has Our Apathy Pushed Jammu Hindus Over the Edge?

The gruesome rape & murder of an 8-year-old Bakarwal Muslim girl, Asifa, in Kathua district of Jammu deserves the harshest of punishment for the perpetrators. As per the charge sheet filed by the crime branch of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police, retired revenue department official Sanji Ram has been named as the main suspect, along with his nephew, his son, a friend of the nephew’s, and 4 policemen.

Jammu has been rocked with several protests ever since J&K police’s Crime Branch (CB) started investigating this crime – at one point, villagers from the same village as the accused started migrating out due to alleged harassment & atrocities by CB.

The Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM), a conglomerate of various parties, has been demanding a CBI probe into the rape & murder of the minor girl. President of HEM, advocate Vijay Sharma told Jammu-based newspaper Daily Excelsior –

“We want that the minor girl and her family be given justice and CBI probe be ordered. It is not an issue of Hindus or Muslims as the Gujjar girl was also our daughter and we are pained for the heinous crime, but this does not mean that investigators will harass the innocent people”,

Some members of the Jammmu Bar Association tired to prevent filing of the charge sheet in court of a Chief Judicial Magistrate at Kathua on Monday. The bar association also called for a strike alleging that Dogras of J&K in Hiranagar were being targeted in the probe by the Crime Branch, and reiterated the HEM’s demand for a CBI probe into the matter – this demand has been turned down by the Mehbooba Mufti government, over-ruling her coalition partner BJP.

The rage with which many people of Jammu are behaving in this case, has its deep roots in the apathy and complete domination of Kashmiri Muslims on Jammu’s administration, even though Jammu division is larger than Kashmir, as outlined in this twitter thread by @TheArvindDhar

A case which epitomizes the biased attitude of the J&K administration towards Jammu is the 2009 custodial death of a Hindu man from Jammu, Rajnish Sharma, in a Srinagar police station. Rajnish had married Anchal Sharma (a Kashmiri Muslim girl, Amina Yousuf, who converted to Hindu Dharma), and she blamed her father, a senior office in the State’s Sales Tax department, and brothers for bribing the J&K police to murder her husband. Despite clear evidence of severe torture on Rajnish, no action was taken against the accused J&K policemen. No valley politician, including then CM Omar Abdullah, even bothered to issue a statement on the matter. Four years later, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe into the case – there is no further news since.

The complete domination of Kashmiri Muslims in the affairs of the state has been a long-standing sore point for the people of Jammu & Ladakh. There is also a lot of anger against BJP which won all of its 25 MLA seats in the 2014 J&K elections from Jammu, but has failed to effectively represent the aspirations of the region despite being an equal partner with PDP (28 seats) in the J&K Government. The genesis of the bias against Jammu goes back to the Sheikh Abdullah Government which divided Vidhan Sabha seats to ensure perpetual Kashmiri Muslim domination.

Many MSM op-ed writers & columnists have jumped in to call the Jammu Bar Association lawyers who protested the chargesheet filing of JK police in the Kathua case, as traitors or sub humans, but not one of those op-ed writers and “Kashmir experts” will tell you the the story of Bars in J&K. Kashmir High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom and his gang got Kashmir Bar Association recognized as a separate entity, hence effectively J&K state has two bars, both divided on nationalist and anti-nationalist planks. The Kashmir Bar routinely raises anti-Bharat slogans in Srinagar HC. 

It was Kashmir Bar which hailed the killer and convicted murderer Dr. Qasim Faktoo (husband of leading woman jihadist and Hurriyat member, Asiya Andrabi) as hero of kashmir. Kashmir Bar has also created issues for Jammu lawyers who want to appear in Kashmir HC, and their support to secession is well known.

The Jammu Bar acted in response to the behaviour of Kashmir Bar – starting from the Amarnath agitation, they keep Bharatiya nationalism on their sleeves. This is the root cause of the lawyers’ issue & the deep trust deficit between people of Jammu and the valley-dominated State apparatus.

From police to Government appointments, Jammu has been systematically ignored and insulted. Jammu is getting bulldozed by Kashmiri Muslims and the seeming surrender by BJP, the party which citizens of Jammu voted overwhelmingly for, has made people of Jammu reactionary.

A Jammu lawyer Ankur Sharma has filed a PIL in SC demanding creation of a minority commission in J&K to ensure that Hindus & other minorities in the state get the benefit of crores of aid for from central and state welfare schemes for minorities, which is right now illegally flowing to the majority Muslim community (68% of J&K’s population). Despite a SC order, the J&K State Government has shown no interest to discuss the issue with the centre, Union Attorney General K K Venugopal recently told the Court.

At the moment, these are the 3 main demands of the agitating Jammu lawyers and civil society groups –

1.) A CBI probe into the Kathua rape & murder case. There are many questions around the composition of the J&K police Crime Branch team investigating the case, with three out of the five-member team said to be from Kashmir and the credentials of two of them reportedly doubtful. One of the members of SIT, namely Irfan Wani, in-charge Kahara Police Post, was arrested in 2007 for the murder of a boy and alleged rape of a girl during illegal custody.

2.) Withdrawal of the controversial minutes of the Tribal Affairs Department meeting chaired by CM Mehbobba Mufti, which encouraged land grabbing by tribals (mostly Muslim Gujjars and Bakarwals) in Jammu, Kathua, Samba and Udhampur districts of Jammu division in particular. (Reports are suggesting that the motive behind the heinous rape & murder of 8-year-old Asifa was to scare & drive Muslim tribals out of the area.)

3.) Deportation of Rohingya-Bangladeshi illegal immigrants from Jammu.

It is high time the ruling dispensation, and people of Bharat at large, understand that Jammu province wants dignity and respect, which the current PDP-BJP govt has failed to deliver to them. It is also important that the investigation of the brutal rape & murder of 8-year-old Asifa, and other similar crimes which our liberal media brushes under the carpet, is concluded impartially & speedily and capital punishment meted out to perpetrators.

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