• Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan Releases Enquiry Report on the Kathua Rape

    Press Release

    March 28, 2018

    8 year old Asifa| Image Courtesy:Kashmir Observer

    The Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan (Delhi) today held a Press Conference at Press Club and released the report of the PMS team which visited Kathua District of Jammu region of J&K state on 18th and 19th of March 2018 in connection with the rape and murder of an 8 year old girl of the Bakkarwal tribe and the subsequent vicious communal propaganda unleashed there against the arrests of the alleged rapists. The team members, including  Adv. Poonam Kaushik- PMS General Secretary and Adv. Shubra (Vice President of PMS, Delhi) and Ms Kalpana -Secretary PMS Delhi were present at the Conference and addressed the same.

    Releasing their report, the team members expressed their shock and grief at the fact that the rape and murder of an 8 year old girl child of a nomadic community, instead of being condemned by all sections of society, has been turned into a rallying point on communal lines in defence of the accused persons. The team unanimously condemned the same.It is pertinent to state that the accused persons were apprehended only after the sniffer dogs took the scent from the spot in the jungle where the body was found to the house of one of the accused. A Hindu Ekta Manch has emerged, has secured the participation and blessings of ministers (the Forest Minister of the state is specifically mentioned and one more minister ,the leaders of congress and PDP  participated in the rally of the Hindu Ekta Manch) of the PDP-BJP Govt. and is demanding a CBI enquiry though a J&K High Court monitored enquiry is already on into the brutal crime. This is typical of the BJP-RSS organisations that they are disrespectful towards the courts if they fail to toe the line –as was adequately indicated by the 4 judges of the Supreme Court who spoke up to ‘’save democracy’’. It is also typical that the organisation is demanding a CBI enquiry, while the Supreme Court had earlier      clearly talked of it as a “caged parrot’’ and in this case, the idea is to get the case out of the hands of the state govt. and under the BJP-RSS central govt. It is pertinent to note that it was the dead child’s natural father who moved the relevant High Court and prayed that it supervise the ongoing SIT Enquiry. This was accepted and the parents of the killed girl (both natural and adopted parents) are now satisfied with the ongoing enquiry. The team has concluded that the Hindu Ekta Manch  is opposing the SIT on communal lines, which is no ground at all. Anyway the SIT does not have a uniform religious composition.

    The PMS team has recorded that they were shown two photographs by the IG Crime, Jammu to  explain why 2 policemen have been arrested as accused in this case. In one photograph the dead body can be seen in a blood and mud stained frock.  The other photograph shows the same frock without the body and totally clean- this was the state of the frock  after it was taken off the body and just before it was sealed to be sent for forensic examination. The 2 policemen have been thus arrested for destruction of evidence.

    It is tragic that communal politics of Hindutva are being played out using the body of a girl child. The PMS supports the demand of the team that protection should be extended to the murdered child’s parents. Earlier this family and other families of nomads in the surrounding villages were denied access to government water sources by the Hindu Raksha Manch and the government agencies took no action.

    The team members also reported that members of the Hindu Sena who are demanding release of the accused are asserting that the arrest of the alleged guilty is a step towards ‘’changing the demography of the region’’. It is both tragic and absurd to drown the murder of and sexual violence on a girl child in such twisted fashion. Demographic change actually is not unknown in Jammu- it is what Hari Singh, erstwhile king of the state, facilitated through his army in partitioning India by a genocide of Muslims triggering mass displacement from Muslim majority districts of Jammu.  It is also being confidently stated by the Hindu Manch that such a ghastly crime can never be committed by Hindus because they ‘’worship kanyas’’; one is left speechless considering that all over the country are regular incidents which render this assertion a total lie and in fact their victims also are of the same religion!    

    The team members also demanded that POSCO be notified in the state of J&K and the PMS supports this demand. It is heinous indeed that in a state where due to a law like AFSPA so much violence against women’s bodies is denied justice, the so elected government  of the state over the years and including the present government  of the state have not deemed it necessary to give the shelter of this law to their children. The same applies to the Forest Rights Act, which has not been extended here and due to which a memorandum by submitted by All Tribe Coordination of J&K to the State government  that a Minister in the J&K government  who is a MLA from Jammu region, is steadily encroaching forest lands and is complicit in attempting to drive out the nomadic tribes who graze their livestock in these regions.   

    The team noted that initially the police had promptly arrested a 15 year old nomad youth and another tribal and held them responsible for the heinous act. For suspecting the nomads and for all acts of the police which are against Muslims the Hindu Manch praises the police. However, the moment their own members are touched, the Manch promptly condemns the police. They are not at all apologetic about defending policemen who misused their position to destroy evidence to defend people of their religion. This is a very strange stand.

    The team has held that the current High Court supervised SIT enquiry should continue. Especially in the light of destruction of evidence, the team has demanded that scientific methods of investigation should be fully brought into use to establish the facts before the charge sheet is filed.

    The PMS also condemns the lack of administrative action by JNU against a Professor accused of sexual harassment of 8 women students. We also condemn the police lathi charge on the students who were conducting a peaceful rally and had given prior information to the police of the same.  Here too it appears that it is ideology/religion which is determining how the accused is treated.

    Poonam Kaushik

    General secretary, Pragatisheel Masshila Sangathan          

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