Two principal communities of Jammu, the Hindu Dogras and the Muslim Dogras are face to face with each other consequent to the alleged horrific rape and murder of an innocent Muslim girl in Rassana. As per the charge sheet and media disclosures, the ascribed motive of the crime is to scare away nomadic Muslim Community. Both the communities have co-existed amicably for centuries and never caught media attention for any social, economic or political feud. Today centuries old amity is at the crossroads.
Such cruelty under the abode of widely worshipped Goddess Mata Vaishno is unthinkable. Jammu today is in a crucial situation never heard of. Jammu will get an international rebuke over such incident was never thought of. Unbearable shame inflicted upon the Dogras by malicious slander consequent to the gruesome cruelty without reasonable verifications is unprecedented. Jammu’s secular credentials stand demolished and pride crushed. Its pluralism has become a subject of ridicule. All guns have been brandished at us. Lawyers, civil society, 2 ministers of BJP, policemen and those who demand CBI enquiry are branded pro-rapists. They are being viewed anti-Muslims. It pains me to write such unpleasant words. Various doubts in every mind in every household is but natural.
Gang rape and murder of the innocent girl is being described as a planned and a motive killing. BJP ministers deputed by the Party President to meet the agitators are being portrayed as pro-criminals. They have been crucified in the media for siding with Hindu Ekta Manch to defend criminals. They were declared guilty without giving them a chance to defend. Sensing it as a surreptitious conspiracy, Jammu is emotionally surcharged. It is provoked beyond redemption and something is going to happen. And it must happen so that Jammu can redeem from communal and criminal blemish lest its ethos of pluralism is doomed forever.
Not once but time and again Jammu has been shamed by the politicians but this time it was the media which went berserk against Jammu. Ironically those whom Jammu voted have gone against it. The media which was traditionally pro-Kashmiri narrative spared no effort to paint the BJP, Jammu Bar Association, Brahmins of Rassana and Jammu Police as black sheep.
As per the media reports, Asifa was reported missing on 10 January 2018. FIR was lodged in Hiranagar Police Station. SHO started the investigation. Her dead body was found in the nearby forest on 17 January, now claimed to have been found from a cattle shed. Postmortem carried out at Dist Hospital Kathua by a team led by Dr Mukul didn’t mention rape in the medical report. From where has the gang rape surfaced in the crime. It is alleged that Dr Mukul was pressurized to add rape which he didn’t. Why wasn’t the dead body exhumed? Rape entered the investigation later from the oral evidence, could be under coercion. Falsehood has the habit of feeding itself. 100 times lie becomes truth. Within a week investigation was taken away from SHO Hiranagar and handed over to a locally formed magisterial team under Mr Adil, Additional SP Samba. Even this team was relieved and the case handed over to the Crime Branch with cops coming from Srinagar, a place far away from the scene of an incident. More astonishing was the inclusion of a sub-inspector who had been jailed for 3 years for having raped a girl in Thatri Police Station in Doda Dist and murdering her brother. SIT started its investigations as per the mandate. Picking up people randomly, it created a mayhem. Entire village fled and took refuge in Koota village. While all that was happening, Chief Minister issued instructions to the police and revenue authorities not to evict any squatter or grabber from anywhere and not to interfere in the bovine transportation. When the Charge Sheet was being filed on 11 April, Kathua Lawyers tried to prevent its filing which was perceived to defend criminals. The charge sheet was filed but the stigma remains.
As soon as CM Mehbooba Mufti came to know of the incident, she deputed ministers Mian Altaf and Zulfiqar Choudhary to Rassana. State Assembly was in session at Jammu. The case was brought out in the House and given political overtones but nobody asked how and why a girl remained missing for 7-8 days despite having been reported to the police. What is the police for and what was it doing for long? Why none in the village came to know of the mischief. Isn’t there any system of intelligence or crime sensing/reporting in the state? Aren’t police authorities answerable for the confusion? It looks, like always, that higher authorities didn’t take this gruesome case seriously. The State Home Minister i.e. CM herself must answer why such lapses and who is responsible.
The investigating cops are alleged to have taken a bribe and erased evidence crucial for forensic examination. Two cops are part of the eight men being tried. Without casting aspersion on JKP, it is a fact that policemen, by and large, are corrupt. Most of us will not go to the police unless a case is really grave. Cops demand bribes openly for registering cases and the rates in some criminal cases are exorbitant. Hence the dictum, money makes the mare go. In this case, one side says it does not have faith in Crime Branch and the other side says it doesn’t have faith in CBI. One party wants the case to go out of the state for trial, the other side wants it to be tried locally. Hence both police and court are facing a credibility crisis. Political interference is also visible. It is being said that Asifa’s parents have a dispute with her adopted parents over land and property and there have been quarrels over it. Some of her relatives are absconding. Instead of investigating the case justly, a complicated situation was created causing Secretary General of UN castigate India. The govt can’t sit idle on the issue. It has to step in and resolve the contradictions transparently. CBI probe may allay all the fears and get justice to both parties.
The irony of Jammu is that it has been branded communal by those whom it embraced as its own. Jammu elected 25 BJP Legislators who elected Mehbooba Mufti as our Chief Minister. It is she who has been unkind to Jammu. She overlooked Jammu’s sentiments. She has rejected CBI probe allegedly because separatist Ali Shah Geelani said No to it despite BJP President and ministers requesting her for the CBI probe to allay apprehensions. She appointed a SIT with cops from Kashmir. Without understanding Jammu semantics, she acted in a manner which gave it communal undertones. She issued directions on 14 February that nomads will not be evicted from their settlements or where they may settle and directed Revenue and Police authorities not to assist any govt agency or private party in evicting nomads from their settlement. In another direction, she prevented legal action against bovine smuggling. Hence it devolves upon laypersons like me to explain Jammu semantics.
Jammu is a land of Gods and goddesses. It is situated in the Himalayas, the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Mata Vaishno is our most revered Goddess. Jammu is known as the city of temples. It is a place where girls are worshipped. Girls are called Kanjak meaning the embodiment of Goddesses. 9 days festival of Navratras is a festival of fasts and worship of girls showing respect for a girl child in Dogra family. If ever one’s foot touches a girl child, it is considered a sin which is redeemed by bowing and touching her feet. No non-veg dishes are cooked in daughters’ wedding. What could be a better example of ‘Beti Bachao – Beti Parhao’.
The inhabitants of Jammu region are Dogras irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Those who have been to Jammu would see that Dogras are simple, God fearing and peace loving. Colloquially, Dogras are called ‘Dangars’, meaning domestic animals. Dogras and Rassana gruesome crime is mind-boggling. For justice to the Dogra civility and to the rape victim, particularly after PM’s indulgence, the case be handed over to the CBI. In fact PM should himself order CBI probe so that he can dispel the international perception of communal and criminality angle. With the charge sheet filed, media playing foul, CBI denied, communal angle taking the centre stage, my hope is dispelled.