File Photo : Amid Allegations, Kathua Victim’s Family Confirms Receipt of Fund from Crowdnewsing
Following the daily routine, early in the morning, herdsman take the shepherds to the nearby Kutta village of Kathua for grazing, but this time, while trekking on foot along with their animals, they are keeping a strict vigil on their surroundings. If they encounter the sight of any stranger, they meander to another lane. Fear has crept into the hearts of the Bakarwals living in the Rasana village of Kathua, Jammu.
According to them, the number of Bakarwals has also dwindled this time. One year and a day has passed since the news of the gruesome rape of eight-year-old Bakarwal jolted the entire Rasana village. The Bakarwals in the village are unable to get over the fear. “We live in fear. We don’t know what will happen to us,” said a local Bakarwal woman on the condition of anonymity. She is flanked by two girls who look around suspiciously, and are careful around us.
Looking back on the one year that has passed, the father of the victim said, “It still feels as if the incident happened yesterday. I am unable to concentrate on work. I always think of my daughter and what all she might have gone through.” He says he had to resort to taking depression medicine since last one year. He also complains about the way villagers have been treating them for the last month and a half. “I was not willing to visit the house. I and my wife, we had stopped midway at Samba after we learnt that the villagers have planned to boycott us. They don’t allow us to buy leaves. If our goat or horses enter their land, they abuse us, and ask us to take our animals away. Now, I go uphill to buy leaves, but I don’t get enough leaves to feed my animals,” he said. This time, he is not accompanied by kids, fearing their safety. “My one kid is in Kashmir, and other is at my mother-in-law’s house,” he added.
Outside the house of the eight-year-old victim, a tent has been installed where two security personnel have been deployed to protect the family. “I see my daughter everywhere. I wake up in the morning, I feel that she is calling me, and asking for food. She is playing outside. She used to love bananas. A few days ago, he bought bananas, but we don’t feel like eating them. How can someone rape such a little girl? Just to evict us from the village, they did this. They could have simply asked us to leave. We would have left. Why this?” questioned victim’s mother.
“When my horse stepped into their field, they abused me, and said that for the things we have done to them, we deserve this treatment. I was shocked,” Victim’s mother told Newsclick.
As per the chargesheet, the incident “was to instil fear and dislodge the nomadic tribe from the forest areas of the Jammu province”. Since BJP came to power, the nomads in the Jammu province have been complaining about the mistreatment in the form of eviction and threats. Meanwhile, the prime accused of the case, Sanji Ram has been arrested. As per the chargesheet, Sanji was the custodian of the temple where the victim was kept for three days. Sanji’s son, Vishal, and his juvenile nephew along with two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Verma, were also arrested.
“I still remember when I was searching for my daughter in the entire village. I encountered Sanji Ram, who questioned me and upon knowing that I am looking for my daughter. He said, she has gone to someone’s house, and is eating food. You go back and she will be on her way home. We came back home, but couldn’t find our daughter anywhere,” recalls victim’s mother. As per the post-mortem report, the victim was sexually assaulted, and died of asphyxia. It was also revealed that the girl was given sedatives.
The case has been moved from Jammu to Pathankot court. The once forerunner of the case, Deepika Rajawat, was dropped out of the case. Two BJP leaders who supported the accused, and participated in the rally carried by the Hindutva groups supporting the accused were asked to resign. The family is facing “social boycott” for no fault of theirs. And lastly, the family is awaiting justice.
“We were told we will get justice within 90 days of the case being moved to the Pathankot court. One year and a day has passed, the lawyers still say that we will get justice. We really don’t know whether we will get justice or not. Allah knows better,” said victim’s mother.