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Protesters condemn communalization of case

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Kathua rape-n-murder

Srinagar: Several students, youth and civil society members protested here at Pratap Park, Srinagar demanding justice for 8-yr old Ashifa who was raped and murdered in Kathua after being drugged and tortured for several days inside a temple.

A statement issued here today said that student activist Shehla Rashid while leading the protest said, “This is a protest against the blatant attempts to communalise the case. BJP is warned to keep its dirty politics out of the state. We won’t allow a Gujarat to happen here. Don’t these so-called lawyers have children? Can they not even empathise with a child? What kind of a society have we become?”

The protesters demanded arrest of the lawyers who tried to obstruct justice by not allowing the Crime Branch to file a chargesheet in the case.

They also demanded that the trial should be transferred outside of Kathua, in order to ensure fair trial. Citing the example of 2005 sex scandal that rocked the J&K state, Shehla Rashid said that the case was transferred to Chandigarh because the lawyers in Srinagar had refused to appear for the accused. It was argued that, for a fair trial to happen, the accused should have legal representation. Similarly, the Ashifa case should be transferred either to Jammu or Srinagar or to a court outside J&K where the trial can proceed without fear and disruption.

The protesters, who had assembled without a banner, demanded removal of Cabinet Ministers Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga who had participated in pro-rape rallies. “This is the very least that CM Mehbooba Mufti can do,” said Shehla Rashid.

Shehla Rashid also expressed solidarity with students of Kashmir University who are staging a sit-in protest against the heinous crime. She also hailed the efforts of Gujjar Bakarwal Students Welfare Association in raising awareness about the issue, and extended solidarity with them.

Former JNUSU President, Mohit Pandey, who is accompanying Shehla Rashid on her trip, added that people backed by BJP are engaging in crimes against women and minorities throughout the country. This is because BJP has given a free hand to communal, casteist and misogynistic elements.

“We urge women and youth across communities to unite against sexual violence and rape,” said Pandey.

After the protest, Shehla Rashid led the youth to Raj Bagh bund where they tore off Environment Minister Choudhary Lal Singh’s name and face from the posters containing messages about use of polythene. Shehla Rashid said that we are not tearing off the message, we are only tearing off his face and name, and we urge youth across Srinagar city to do the same.

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