Jammu: An uneasy calm is palpable in Jammu region after the Kathua rape case verdict, with the local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership nowhere to be seen at the moment. Last year, several BJP leaders including Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga were seen rallying behind the accused, alleging communal bias on the police’s part and demanding a CBI probe into the matter.
The gruesome gang rape case, in which an eight-year-old nomad Muslim girl was kidnapped, raped and murdered in January 2018, had polarised Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on religious lines. The case had aggravated the simmering animosity between Hindus and Muslims in the state.
The verdict, however, elicited an unsettling response in Jammu, with a section of Dogras not satisfied with the judgement. A Dogra resident from Jammu, requesting anonymity said, “We don’t stand with the rapists but we are not satisfied with the judgement. We wanted a fair enquiry and we don’t think it is wrong to ask for it. A CBI enquiry was the need. We are very sure that this verdict is a motivated one to defame Dogras.” Meanwhile, no tweet from the BJP leadership was seen, on the micro blogging site, in favour or against the verdict.
A Dogra woman from Jammu said, “All that Dogras asked for was a CBI enquiry. Not by a team put in place by (former chief minister) Mehbooba Mufti. Not agreeing to conduct a CBI enquiry reveals that there was a communal bias and an attempt to defame our community.” Most people were hesitant to talk to the media.
Newsclick contacted former Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta but he refrained from commenting. “Talk to the spokesperson. I am not the one to comment on this. And why are you picking up this matter? Anyway, I can’t comment on this.”
The spokesperson Sunil Gupta took a moment to answer. He said, “As I read this verdict, Vishal was the main accused and because of him, his father and others were involved in the case but as you can see Vishal has been acquitted while others have been convicted of the same crime. The whole investigation was fudged up. We are neither welcoming nor criticising the court judgement but ….” and the call was dropped. Newsclick tried contacting him again, but there was no response.
If one goes through the charge-sheet, Vishal’s father and the temple priest, Sanji Ram is said to be the mastermind and the prime accused in the case, who planned the entire episode.
Meanwhile, a lawyer and member of Right wing group Hindu Ekta Manch , Ankur Sharma, has termed the judgement as “bad and prejudiced.” Speaking to Newsclick, Sharma said, “This is a bad and prejudiced judgement. This judgement is a disgrace on our judicial system. This has also shed light on how bad our judicial system is. For instance, take Vishal’s case. Vishal ko ek TV channel ne acquit karvya. Media ke karan bacha hai woh (Vishal was acquitted because of a TV channel. Media saved him.)”
Sharma, who was also representing the case of sub-inspector Pravesh Kumar, said: “There was no evidence against Pravesh, yet he has been convicted. This was a disgraceful judgement and we are going to appeal in the high court. See, Dogras are not happy with judgement and its sad.”
Hindu Ekta Manch, a Right-wing group came out in support of the accused in the case. Some BJP leaders were seeing rallying in favour of the accused under the Hindu Ekta Manch banner.