On September 9, doctors recorded their statement on the postmortem report of the Kathua rape victim before the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. The report states the victim was sexually assaulted and died due to asphyxia.
Victim who belonged to the Gujjar-Bakarwal community was kidnapped on January 10, 2018. She was gang-raped in a temple and then killed on January 14. Her dead body was found in the forest on January 17.
On July 30, the crime branch had submitted a supplementary charge sheet in which it highlighted that the victim was administered a mixture of sedatives throughout her captivity to stop her from resisting sexual assault and murder.
As per the police, Sanji Ram, who was the temple’s custodian devised the plan as a way to terrorize the Bakarwals because 90 per cent of the Gujjar-Bakarwal community are Muslims.
Raping and killing the victim was an attempt to evict the tribal community from the area, especially from the Jammu region. The attempt proved successful and its effects are visible as per different human right groups active in the region.
After the incident in the area, the Gujjar-Bakarwals, mostly from Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Kishtwar and Udhampur districts have been migrating permanently to many parts of India such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and other areas.
Calling migration a serious threat, the community elders at the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation have advised their community members, mainly nomadic families, not to migrate to other states of India and fight vigorously for their rights as Scheduled Tribes (STs) of Jammu and Kashmir.
Besides, the community has been suffering from several hindrances in addition to the communal tensions following the incident. The exchange of firing in the Indo-Pak border, which is close to the area where they are based, has also caused the community to suffer. The pastures and meadows are close to the border which are no longer accessible to them causing a huge fall in the milk production.
The leaders of the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation have made an appeal to the new Governor, Satya Pal Malik to direct the government to issue orders stopping the permanent migration to other parts of India.
While speaking with NewsClick, a Bakarwal, on condition of anonymity told that due to the migration, their population is decreasing which points to the threat they are facing in the region. Muslims are already less in number in the Jammu region and now, especially Kathua, Samba and Poonch are facing the highest cases of migration.
Tribal activist Javaid Rahi while speaking with NewsClick said that Gujjar and Bakarwals are migrating due to the shortage of resources, tension on the border and rising communal tension. As per his account more than 1.5 lakh tribal families have migrated.
There is no law as such for tribals in Jammu and Kashmir that can give them access to the government land and the forests, despite raising their voice since 1991 for the implementation of SRO that can help with the survival of the tribal community.
The forest land, pastures and meadows which cover 50 per cent of land in Jammu and Kashmir are completely closed for the Gujjar-Bakarwals.