Rape, murder of 8-year-old Muslim girl spark communal tensions in Kashmir
The victim, Asifa Bano went to graze her horses in a meadow on January 10. After some time, the horses returned but Asifa was nowhere to be seen, stirring concerns among her family members.
Two days later, the family filed a police complaint but according to victim's father, Mr Pujwala, the police did not cooperate. He further claimed that one of the police officers said Asifa must have 'eloped' with a boy.
Just as a week passed, Muhammad Yusuf Pujwala was informed by a neighbour that Bano's body was lying in bushes in the nearby forest, confirming the concerns of the 52-year-old that something horrible must have happened to his daughter.
The police in the occupied valley have arrested eight men, including a retired government official, four police officers and a juvenile in connection with Asifa's death.
As per police investigations, Sanji Ram, a 60-year-old retired government officer, allegedly planned the crime after enlisting help of police officers identified as Surender Verma, Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj and Mr Khajuria.
Mr Ram's son, Vishal, his nephew, a juvenile, and his friend, Parvesh Kumar, are also accused of the rape and murder.
According to police, two men and at least one other raped Bano repeatedly in a temple after giving him sleeping pills and during the investigations, the accused revealed that their motive had been to drive Asifa’s nomadic Gujjar community out of the area.
The Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, had ordered an investigation by the crime branch but the ethnic backdrop in the tragic incident is of importance because all the accused are Hindus while Asifa’s people, the Bakarwals, are Muslim. Moreover, some of the police officers who investigated the case are also Muslim, prompting concerns of injustice in the Hindu community.
The case is over two months old, however, it has become a bone of contention between the community members living in a restive region.
What exacerbates the situation for Pujwala is the fact that Bano was not their real daughter and he had adopted her from his brother-in-law after two of his daughters were killed in an accident some years ago.
Meanwhile, on Monday as investigations are underway, lawyers tried to block the presentation of a charge sheet in a court in Kashmir court of a Chief Judicial Magistrate at Kathua, following which an FIR was registered against them.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah criticized the lawyers's unsuccessful bid and welcomed the registration of the FIR.
While appreciating action by @JmuKmrPolice against the Kathua mob masquerading as lawyers let’s not forget the mob were emboldened by the actions/words of two BJP ministers in @MehboobaMufti’s cabinet. What about action against them?— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 10, 2018
Celebrities React to Brutal Murder
Top Indian celebrities decried the tragic killing of Bano on Twitter, calling for thorough investigations and stern action against the accused.
Imagine what goes through the mind of an 8 yr old as she is drugged, held captive, gang raped over days and then murdered.— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) April 12, 2018
If you don’t feel her terror, you are not human.
If you don’t demand Asifa get justice, you belong to nothing.
A 8 year old is drugged, raped & murdered and another one is fighting for justice for herself and the death of her father in custody.— Riteish Deshmukh (@Riteishd) April 12, 2018
We have a choice either raise your voice or be a silent spectator.
‘Stand up for what is right even if you are standing alone.’#Kathua #Unnao
This is evil. Diabolical.
Imagine this innocent 8-year old child.
Crying as rapists mount her, one after the other.
Can you feel her terror?
Hear her dying sobs?
Now imagine she’s your daughter.
— Rakesh Sharma (@rakeshfilm) April 12, 2018
Murderous villainous thugs shouting "Jai Shri Ram" are also murdering spirit of Ramrajya, destroying Hinduism, creating a spiritual wasteland. Prabhas Joshi's words after Babri demolition echo again: Yeh toh raghukul nahin.." #JusticeforAsifa #JusticeforAsifa— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) April 11, 2018
Can't imagine how anyone can have any rationale for what happened in #Kathua to #Asifa. All of you citing 'kashmiri pandits, valley muslims' even after seeing her images are perverts, be ashamed of who you are, shame on your existence. #JusticeforAsifa— Supriya Shrinate (@SupriyaShrinate) April 11, 2018
Those who shout Bharat Mata ki jai and jai Shri ram in Jammu protests over rape case aren't Hindus but anti Hindu. You bring utter disgrace to a great religion. #JusticeforAsifa— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) April 11, 2018
Atrocities have happened all through our history. Yes, even under Congress rule. Yet, that's no justification. These are not numbers. These are people!— Sanjiv Bhatt (IPS) (@sanjivbhatt) April 12, 2018
Whichsoever be the government of the day, it has to answer for this.
This is unpardonable.#JusticeForAsifa#JusticeForUnnao
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