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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Justice for Kathua rape-murder victim should not be seen in the prism of religion

The truth is that the rest of India did not bother to react to the rape and gruesome murder of a small child in Jammu & Kashmir. It is almost too terrible to even consider the why of the germ of such a thought.

Written by Waheed Ur Rehman Para | Updated: April 20, 2018 6:55:46 pm
Kathua rape and murder case People hold placards at a protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl, in Kathua, near Jammu and a teenager in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. (Source: REUTERS)

The people of the country have changed. Humanity has been violated. Peace is a casualty. It is very disheartening to see politicians and lawyers trying to block the Jammu & Kashmir Crime Branch from filing a chargesheet against the accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl at Kathua. Instead of demanding justice for the little girl, photographs of two BJP state ministers waving the Tricolour in support of the accused have surfaced on social media. The incident took place in January – it has taken the media three long months to speak about the issue.

Where are we heading? Why has justice become a casualty for petty electoral gains?

Truth is, local politicians would normally have not left any stone unturned for justice. But she was the daughter of the marginalised Gujjar community, comprising a mere 34 lakh people in Jammu & Kashmir. India’s “first line of defence”, the nomadic Gujjars, are feeling under attack, but not from a foreign enemy. The brutal rape and murder of the girls has shaken all of us inside out. What makes this crime even more repugnant is that the deliberate cruelty was intended to provoke a whole community.

Truth is, militancy in the Jammu region was not allowed to grow because the people refused to support it. That might now change if Muslims or the Gujjar and Bakerwal community are under attack constantly. This growing resentment against them, so much so that a little child had to pay a horrific unimaginable price, is deeply worrisome.

Political parties may differ in their ideological orientation, but all of us must stand for justice and truth. By offering emotionally charged support to the accused, some political parties delegitimise the pro-India polity in Jammu & Kashmir.

The actions of these political parties not only demean the justice system but also reinforce the hypocrisy that plagues the larger politics of the state. Not surprisingly, a sense of alienation is creeping in amongst the Gujjars. In response, the separatist Hurriyat Conference in the Valley has called for a shutdown of the Chenab valley. The separatists are waiting to step into the void left by the mainstream political parties, hoping to connect the so far disconnected Jammu Muslims to their own cause.

Why didn’t the rest of India — civil society, media and the political class – not react in the Kathua case as they did with the Jessica or Nirbhaya incidents ? That is the other horrific thought.

The truth is that the rest of India also did not bother to react to the rape and gruesome murder of a small child in Jammu & Kashmir. It is almost too terrible to even consider the why of the germ of such a thought. The J&K Police is terribly demoralised. It is not the family of the victim which is raising questions on the investigations by the State Crime Branch, but the families of the accused who are demanding a CBI inquiry. This inversion of justice also gives us a sense of how state institutions are being polarised.

Justice for her should not be seen in the prism of religion. An eight-year- old child hardly knows what her religion is.

Waheed ur Rehman Para is the youth president, J&K PDP and tweets at @parawahid 

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