For religious reasons, I stay away from media and electronic sources for weeks and months at a time. This time, when I re-started looking at news, there were not one, but two cases of rape that were being discussed nationally. The first at Unnao, and the second at Kathua. Of the two, the latter is easily the more heart-rending and tragic, since it involved a little child—a girl of 8 years only—who was also killed after the vile act. There is not a single human who cannot but feel terrible upon learning of this case.
My first reaction was to simply hate those who have been accused. How could they? And that too in a temple? My blood boiled, and I felt like executing them myself.
Then, when I read the charge-sheet filed by the J&K crime branch, I felt even worse. How could anyone behave in this depraved manner with a little girl who looks so sweet in her pictures that one would want to buy her some chocolate and balloons and make her smile and laugh.
Then, like many Indians I am sure, I started reading and viewing videos on the various aspects of the case. Unlike some, I don’t have a strong opinion on whether the accused are guilty or not. I try to be very objective about the evidence, and at this stage, all I can think of is the evidence. I decided to write this short piece to just share my thoughts on the evidence.
I think that there are 2 pieces of the evidence that, if correct and accurately reported, shed contrasting light on the guilt of the accused. Namely, one points towards guilt, and the other away. Let me state these in order to share my own confusion.
- First, the evidence which I feel goes strongest towards the guilt of the accused. To me, this is the presence of clonazepam (sold under the trade name of Epitril) in the blood of the victim. Clonazepam is available as prescription only, and therefore someone had to have had the prescription. That would point a strong finger of involvement (in some way, shape, or form) towards the uncle of Deepak Khajuria who had such a prescription. The chargesheet says that Deepak used this prescription to obtain the clonazepam. I find this to be a strong finger pointing towards involvement of some person or group associated with the person who had this prescription.
- The evidence that sits most uncomfortably with me, that points away from Sanji Ram (the prime accused, the chief conspirator as per the charge sheet) is the following. This person—Sanji Ram—who is also the caretaker from Rasana village of the Devi temple, is supposed to be the mastermind behind this crime. It is he who is supposed to have conceived it, and brought in the various perpetrators (including his own son, and various police personnel) into this crime. He is said to have given large bribes to destroy evidence, etc. But here is what does not fit this picture. Little angel Asifa’s lifeless body was found on a mud path about 10 feet from his home, exiting the forest area that leads to his home. Some reports say 100 feet, but all reports agree it was found very close to his home. That clearing in the forest also contains the temple, and Sanji Ram’s home, but not much else (ABP news had the clearest video report on this aspect of it—they showed the exact spot where the body was found, and its relation to the forest and the clearing) Would a mastermind, who thought of so many angles, dispose the dead body so close to his home without even attempting to hide it (by, say, burying it). An entire forest was right there, yet he chose to leave the body right outside his home so that it would be found and the first finger of suspicion would fall on him? That simply makes no sense to me, and rather suggests that someone was trying to make Sanji Ram the first suspect in this case.
There are other evidences that I feel should reveal a lot more about the case (one way or the other—I have no opinion on that as of yet), but I was unable to find any definitive description (video) of them on line. I will simply list them.
- The structure of the temple. Some reports say that there is no lockable room inside the temple, while the police chargesheet says there was one such room. If any reporter could please give us a detailed video of the insides of the temple, it would help immensely. I have no opinion on this evidence since I could not find dependable details on line.
- The signature analysis of Sanji Ram’s son at his exam center in Muzaffarnagar. Again, I found one video that shows these signatures and says they are legitimate, while other reports say that there is some fraud there. I have no opinion on this evidence since I could not find dependable details on line.
- Any DNA analysis of seminal fluid that may have been discovered, since that can be tied directly (or not) to accused. I could not find any report on this aspect of the case, and hence have no opinion on it.
I weigh far less importantly other “aspects” such as Hindu-Muslim, PDP vs. BJP etc. I think that as a society we should not go there at all. This is a crime—a very very heinous one—-and let us first get to the bottom of who did it. Once that is done, let us ensure that the person(s) get maximum penalty—-nothing short of death sentence will do.
I dedicate this short piece to the little angel Asifa, and pray that her killer(s) will be found soon and put to death.
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Very balanced and tender piece by Shri Kumar. We need more who think in terms of facts alone. That alone will get justice for Ashifa.