Kathua Gang Rape: Asifa’s Family Forced To Flee From Village After More Come To Defense Of Accused Rapists
The family of eight-year-old Asifa who was found raped and murdered in Jammu’s Kathua has fled from their village following protests from the Jammu & Kashmir Bar Association regarding J&K police’s “mishandling” of the investigation.
According to The Times of India, Muhammad Yusuf Pujwala, the girl’s father, along with his wife, two children and livestock left for an unknown place. Earlier reports suggested that the family was to leave for Kashmir next month.
The Bakarwal nomads spend the summers crisscrossing the mighty Himalayan mountains with their flock of livestock, herding sheep on the lush green meadows, camping along fresh water-streams and selling milk from goats and buffaloes. As the winters set in, they descend on the plains in Jammu, a climatically warmer place during the snow on the mountains.
Three different protests
The separatist Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, accused the state government and police of being mute spectators while the Jammu Bar Association, along with Jammu Kashmir Panthers Party, was enforcing bandhs in favour of the accused rapists.
Meanwhile, civil society members have come out in protest against the gruesome crime. On Wednesday, students, youths and civil society members held a protest at Pratap Park in Srinagar.
The civil society demonstration was led by former vice-president of JNU students union Shehla Rashid. She said that the protest was against the blatant communalisation of the case. She warned BJP and asked them “to keep its dirty politics out of Jammu and Kashmir”. “We won’t allow a Gujarat to happen here. Don’t these so-called lawyers have children? Can they not even empathise with a child?” she questioned.
They demanded the release of the lawyers who protested against the filing of the charge sheet by the Crime Branch of police. The protesters also demanded that the trial is transferred out of Kathua so that it can proceed without fear and disruption.
200 Bakarwals had bought land from local residents to build houses in Rasana. They are a Sunni-Muslim nomadic tribe. Most of them are goatherds and shepherds. They are found in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan and in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan.
Altaf Jan, uncle of the murdered girl told The Economic Times that there was huge discrimination against them. “The two communities have cultural differences. But there is systematic effort to harass us. For example, water supply schemes and other government schemes are not implemented in areas where Bakarwals live. Many times we are not allowed to take water from community tanks,” he told. “We face huge discrimination. This is to make our life difficult here,” he added.