Iron Fist

No One (Raped) Killed Asifa

Asis Ranjan Sengupta

The title is borrowed from the one time hit Bollywood movie, based on the cold-blooded murder and trial of Jessica Lal, the Bar counter employee, late evening, in Delhi, by the drunken son of an influential Congress leader. The story, very much a real life one, is on the crime, and trial, a trial, where for the accused being well connected VIP, was acquitted scot free, simply because of the lack of evidence, the witnesses, who, initially deposed in favour, turned hostile in course of trial, and the key eyewitnesses refused to depose against the accused, as the accused belonged to influential class. The trial court also took a lenient, non-committed attitude, and meted out soft handling during the trial proceedings, and finally went against the prosecution, who allegedly, failed to prove the charges.

This is a very common feature of social justice in a country like India, where the entire administrative and Judicial systems are under the clutches of political mafia. Recently, all criminal cases against the killers in the court cases of Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, Malegaon, Mecca Mosque, Samjhuta Express blast, the process of trial and conviction, were reversed and all the accused, were acquitted scot free, for want of proof. This displayed nakedly, the weather cock status of Indian Judiciary, where trials in certain cases, are not only pointed in favour of the ruling party affiliates, but also change direction with the change in the direction of wind, that is change of guard.

The brutal rape and killing of a little eight-year-old girl, in Kathua, Jammu, under the state of Jammu & Kashmir, inside a temple, and that of Unnao in UP, are sordid demonstration of such bias. Firstly, in case of Kathua, Jammu, the fact that she was a Muslim, anti-National militant by default, came to the forefront. That she belonged to a tribal nomadic animal rearing family in the most difficult, apparently inaccessible zones, where none other than the Military have to be present to guard the border, occupied back seat. The fact is this Gujjar or 'Bakrewals' are very hardy, simple, loyal people, who first located the holy ice Shiva Linga in the Amarnath Caves, and Hindus discovered a pilgrim site. Prior to War, as Army sources shared the information, these people had informed the Army men, on duty,about the presence of strangers along the border, who were, later found to be, Pakistan Army personnel. The history of Kargil War, that followed, is known to all. Their men serve as porters, Pony Suppliers, guides during Amarnath Yatra, every year, and no body heard about any act of unfaithfulness, from these people. During the winter, they come down with their animals, and stay for a few months, in the forest and pasture lands at the outskirts of Jammu. This is a practice from the time of Maharaja Hari Singh, when Jammu was a part and parcel of one Kashmir, and there was no separatist demand, and polarisation on the basis of religion, which was further sharpened after the eviction of Pundit community from the valley, which is also their motherland.

The facts related to the brutal incident are known to almost all by the publications in media—print, electronic and social. The child went missing when she was searching for their lost pony, from the forest area, the father lodged complaint with the police, and frantically searched everywhere possible, but without result. After approximately eight days her mutiliated body was found beside the jungle. The post-mortem confirmed rape, physical torture, and murder by lethal weapon. Initial enquiry by local police failed to crack anything. Then by special instruction from the CM, M S Mufti, the investigation was handed over to Detective Department, and one dedicated officer, who eventually belongs to a Pundit origin, dug out the mystery, and that was horrible. The crime, reportedly committed inside one temple, was a well planned conspiracy, executed under the patronage of the Priest, who is a retired Govt. employee of Land Revenue Services. Two Juvenile boys were roped in to conduct the continual torture on the victim,who was again administered anaesthetic drug, to hush up.The involvement of Juveniles were purportedly to thwart the process of trial and punishment, as they have special legal status, that obviates lesser punishment with a scope for reformation. One local macho police officer also participated in the act, and finally one was called, allegedly from Meerut to kill and dispose the body, in a skilful way, who again, said to have "enjoyed" the masculine exercise, before throwing the half decomposed body in remote jungle. After this, the police was left with no alternative, but to start criminal case. The monstrous game, unfolded itself, at this stage. The Lawyer, a brave lady, and again one Pundit by birth, was defending the victim side as a professional, and she was heckled, attacked, trolled, boycotted in Bar, all to create obstacle,in the process of trial. But the material evidences were strong enough, and under pressure from the office of chief Minister, the accused had to be booked. Again, for the first time in the history of Indian Republic, all the activists, belonging to the saffron Party, who are also ruling, by virtue of the coalition, came out in the streets of Jammu, with Tri Colour Flag, and communal slogans, in support of the accused, who are all RSS activists.

From this demonstration, it was made clear that, it was a Political Rape, and not a Hindu Rape, and it has a definite communal colour added purposefully. The arguments launched in support of the crime, are also nothing new. The old story of so-called demographic danger of the Hindus, by the (seasonal and otherwise) presence of these Gujjars, and settlement of Rohingya refugees. The sudden rise in the Muslim count of population in Jammu, mushrooming of Mosques etc. Moreover, another false alarm was spread that, Mehbooba govt, was about to grant permanent residential status to these Muslims,by amending Land Laws. Needless to say, all these are bogus and baseless publicity, as usual. The Bakrewals come every year for the few months of harsh winter, and the Rohingya refugees are not alarmingly high in number. The Land Law rumour, has a different angle. In fact, as reports are there, number of Temples are mushrooming here that by far outnumber the Mosques, and that cannot justify the act being commissioned in a temple. For the last few years, this Jammu region witnessed a so-called growth story, in the shape of, as usual, spate of Housing projects, amusement Parks and resorts, and shopping Malls. A large number of wealthy Hindus have settled here from adjacent states. Now this new activity, need grabbing the forest land traditionally belonging to the tribal people. But as per law, the Land traditionally belonging to the tribal community, cannot undergo any change in character. The J & K, have no own Law for tribal land, and in the face of aggression by Land shirks, the Mehbooba govt, issued status quo order in respect of such lands prohibiting sell, purchase or registration, till framing of a state Law. And this order was misinterpreted and used to ignite communal hatred. There are other aspects also, it has come to light that, the local BJP, based in Jammu region only, is totally frustrated and angry with the non fulfilment of Pre-Poll promises like scrapping of Article 370, or 35A, the total negation of separatist extremism in the valley, overnight, with a iron hand, rehabilitation of erstwhile evicted Pundits, and restoration of their lost property etc. etc. So this rape or any other such heinous acts of violent crime, now or in future, are but natural outburst of rage arising from that sense of deprivation. This justification has been openly advocated in media by leading mouthpieces of saffron brigade. With that strong fake propaganda machinery is active, particularly in social media, to furnish a long list of such Hindu victims, subjected to Muslim criminals. The troll factory has even gone to the extent of claiming that the crime in question, was in fact a dangerous conspiracy hatched by the Muslim community, spearheaded by Mufti and her associates, they raped and killed the girl, and tactfully passed it to the Hindus. Even one can find stories, apparently quite convincing, that the father of the victim is the main culprit. He tried to grab a huge land, and when he failed, he raped and killed her daughter, who was an adopted child, to trap the Hindus who resisted his illegal land acquiring design earlier.

So, this a political crime, and a part of total violent communal ‘Hindutwa’ ideology, that is being carefully promoted all over the country. Now let us go back to the start, the trial in the case of Jessica Lal case, failed to deliver justice to the aggrieved family of the victim. But the palpable crime was so evident, that public anger rose, and media trial, forced the authorities to reopen the trial, and ultimately the culprit was awarded life term punishment. The other accomplices and eye witnesses who later turned hostile, were also booked with punishments. But the situation is totally different by now. Since 2014, the nation is witnessing a flood of identical crimes that go without any action altogether, let alone punishment. The attack on the minority community, the Dalits, the student community, all are going on unchecked with the help of administration and government patronage. The responsible ministers, self-styled leaders, are passing hate speeches and irresponsible comments freely round the clock, the media have now more or less the Public Relations Agency of the ruling party.They have been made to crawl by attacks by purchase or by slapping of multi crore criminal defamation suits. BJP IT cell is spending crores of rupees to develop and spread fake news, false propaganda, to mislead public opinion. The situation is really alarming, as Mr Ram Madhab, the RSS activist, who is stated to be the in charge of Kashmir affairs, openly declared solidarity with the accused culprits. So it is very difficult to make the judicial course to deliver justice.

In Jessica Lal murder period, the initial contention that ‘no one killed’ could be set right, but under changed circumstances when high and mighty with due political weight can easily evade any legal proceedings, let alone punishment. In Salman Khan hit and run case, it was finally proved that there was no car, nobody was killed, and a unclaimed dead body was there. The real trial and verdict was just opposite of what the Bollywood movie ‘Jolly LLB I & II’, showed. In the shooting of endangered Black Buck trial also, instant bail is granted, even though the Doctor who tried to save the lives of dying children in Gorakhpur Hospital, is rotting in Jail for want of bail, and ninety percent disabled Professor of Delhi University, G N Saibaba, is ailing in Jail without Bail, but Aseemananda, is granted acquittal. While Prof Saibaba has no proof against himself, and Aseemananda, had confessed to his guilt without any pressure,voluntarily. That is why the saffron activists in Jammu are now vociferously demanding the handing over the case to CBI, knowing fully well that are now quite safe in the hands of either CBI or NIA. So, in all probability, the ruthless annihilation for political purpose, is not going to bear any just trial result, against the culprits, who clearly enjoy political backing of the ruling dispensation.So, in conclusion, the conscience of the nation is afraid that, in Asifa Bano case, though the initial investigation and framing of charges are positive, the final outcome, after a prolonged delay and dilly dallying, may be reverse, in keeping with the title, unlike that of Jessica.

Vol. 50, No.44, May 06 - 12, 2018