Bakerwal activist Talib Hussain, who was recently released on bail after spending two months in jail on charges of rape by a close relative of his estranged wife, has been accused of rape by another woman. The news portal Firstpost published an anonymous account Saturday by a woman who alleged she was raped by “a man leading the protests against the Kathua sexual assault”. The account did not name Hussain.
Subsequently, in a public statement, senior Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaising announced that she intended to stop appearing on behalf of Talib Hussain, a decision she had taken in “view of full support of the #MeToo movement”. Jaising wrote: “Although the survivor has not named the person who raped her, the obvious reference is to Talib Hussain.” She quoted the “Cab-Rank rule”, and said that “it states that ordinarily no advocate will withdraw from engagements once accepted without sufficient cause. In my opinion the allegations made in the FirstPost article are sufficient cause for me to take the decision to withdraw from this case.”
Former JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid, who tweeted about the incident naming Hussain, told The Sunday Express: “I don’t know the survivor but the charges made against Talib Hussain in her account are very serious and these warrant action. The police should take suo motu cognizance of the charges. The survivor should know that all of JNU stands with her and she would get all necessary support if she reached out to anyone.”
Hussain could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Hussain shot into prominence after the rape-murder of a Bakerwal girl child led to religious polarisation in the Jammu area, and he spearheaded an agitation seeking justice for the victim. Hussain was attacked at Udhampur, and the Supreme Court ordered the police to protect him.
In her statement, Jaising wrote: “My social commitment to the #MeToo movement overrides my professional engagement, and therefore I have taken a conscious decision to stop representing Talib Hussain in any court.”
In the Firstpost report, the woman recalled how her unnamed attacker had been invited to JNU as a speaker on March 27, and that she was one of the students who invited him. She wrote: “On 27 April, he messaged me to say that he would be arriving in Delhi that evening and that I should meet him. I did not want to… He called me 40 times that night (I noted this on my call log the next day).”
According to the woman, she finally met him outside JNU, and at 12.30 am, they reached a lane in the Batla House locality. She wrote: “He ushered me into a one-room flat on the second/third floor of a building. I knew what was going to happen next: he would demand sex from me, I would refuse to give consent, and he would end up raping me. My fears turned out to be right.”
The woman has alleged that she was brutally raped: “…I pleaded with him, I even physically wrestled against his brute strength; but my resistance seemed too frail compared to his brutality. I remember crying in pain; but instead, he mocked me, saying ‘Tum bohot naazuk ho.’ All the while he raped me, he kept insisting that he would do nikaah with me, as if by declaring his intention to marry he would legitimise what he was doing.”
Sadath Hussain Khalifa, a core committee member of the organisation that had invited Hussain to the JNU campus on March 27, said they would stand with the woman.
“We had invited him in context of the Kathua rape case, to deliver a talk on ‘Justice for Aasifa and The Gujjar-Bakkarwal Community in J&K’. Along with Hussain, a JNU research scholar was also supposed to speak at the event,” said Khalifa.