Farhat Naik

After death, Asifa pulls India together to seek justice

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From Rahul to VK Singh; from Sania Mirza to Dia Mirza, all demand justice; Indian TV’s and local media are on same page, finally

Illustration By: Basharat Bashir

Srinagar, Apr 12: All those people who were eying to play the ‘nationalism’ card and cash in on the pro-right bias to justify their siding with those responsible for the brutal rape-and-murder on eight-year-old Asifa Bano, a Bakerwal girl of Kathua, have a reason to curse their wisdom as entire India from political leaders to Bollywood stars are aghast at their politically motivated defence of the indefensible.

While the mainstream TV channels, which are usually a cause of huge heart-ache here and are often criticized for their “slant” against a particular community, are leading the chorus for justice to the victim, political leaders and Bollywood stars too have come out in open to denounce the kind of politics that is being played in Jammu to defend the perpetrators of the heinous crime.

It was for the first time, after ages, that Srinagar’s local media and all national (private) TV channels seemed on the same page over the issue.

“Republic TV and other channels really did a good job today. This indicates that we should not lose hope in Indian media,” said a journalist, working with a local Urdu newspaper.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi today described the rape and killing of the 8-year-old Kathua girl as “unimaginable brutality” that cannot go unpunished, and wondered how anybody can seek to protect the culprits.

He also lashed out at the politics being played over the crime.

“How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil?” he asked, adding that the violence against the child was a crime against humanity.

“It cannot go unpunished,” he said on Twitter.

“What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child,” he tweeted.

Union minister V K Singh said “we as humans” had failed the eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community, but she would not be denied justice.

The child from the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area.

Expressing distress over the tragedy, perhaps the first reaction from a BJP minister, he said we have failed her as humans.

“But she will not be denied justice,” the Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry added in his tweet.

A Special Investigation Team formed to probe the incident has arrested eight people, including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a Head Constable, who were charged with destruction of evidence.

A chargesheet filed by the police said abduction, rape and killing of the girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority community from the area.

The rape has polarised the state with the Jammu Bar Association calling for a bandh against what it termed the “targeting of minority Dogras”, while the Valley saw protests demanding justice for the deceased.

“@JmuKmrPolice Crime Branch has done a commendable job in investigating the unfortunate case of Asifa’s rape & murder. JKP is a highly professional police force and I’m sure the law will take its due course and the culprits will be suitably punished

Indian tennis star Sania Mirza expressed dismay at the protests organized by Hindu nationalists to support the accused in horrific gangrape-and-murder of Asifa Bano.

Mirza, who is married to Pakistan cricketing star Shoaib Malik, re-tweeted a story which had appeared in ‘New York Times’ with the intro: “In India, the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl has led to protests by Hindu nationalists – coming to the defense of the accused.”

“Is this really the kind of country we want to be known as to the world today ?? If we can’t stand up now for this 8 year old girl regardless of our gender, caste, colour or religion then we don’t stand for anything in this world.. not even humanity.. makes me sick to the stomach,” Mirza wrote on Twitter.

“My heart is broken and I am filled with anger and disgust. Asifa has suffered and gone at the hands of criminals who have also murdered our collective conscience!,” tweeted Dia Mirza, the Bollywood star.

Angry, ashamed and heartbroken is how the Indian film industry personalities described their feelings over the Unnao and Kathua rapes and demanded swift action against the perpetrators.
Celebrities such as Javed Akhtar, Abhishek Bachchan, Swara Bhasker and Hansal Mehta took to social media to condemn the two brutal incidents that have shocked the nation.

In Unnao, a teen rape survivor claimed BJP MP Kuldeep Singh Sengar had raped her and the death of her father in police custody. The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government has filed a first information report (FIR) against Sengar.

While in Kathua, eight-year-old Asifa was gangraped by six men who had held her in captivity in a small temple for a week in January. She was drugged so that she could be sexually assaulted again before being bludgeoned to death.

Noted screenwriter Javed Akhtar said it was high time that people came forward in support of women rights.

“In Unnao, the brother of the alleged rapist is arrested for beating the father of the rape victim which caused his death. So far police has not taken any action in the rape case. The MLA is walking free and has the audacity to call the victim and her family lowly people,” he wrote.

Abhishek Bachchan shared Asifa’s picture and hashtagged her name.

Director Hansal Mehta retweeted ‘The New York Times’ piece which detailed how Asifa’s rape and murder led to protests by Hindu nationalists who defended the accused in the case.

“Is this nationalism?” Mehta wrote alongside the link.

Sonam Kapoor also shared the same article and called out “fake nationals” and “fake Hindus” in her tweet.

“Ashamed appalled and disgusted by fake nationals and fake Hindus. I cannot believe this is happening in my country,” she wrote.

Actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar pleaded the case of an eight-year-old who was subjected to unspeakable brutalities.

“Imagine what goes through the mind of an 8 yr old as she is drugged, held captive, gang raped over days and then murdered. If you don’t feel her terror, you are not human. If you don’t demand Asifa get justice, you belong to nothing (sic)” Farhan tweeted.

Swara wrote, “An 8 year old girl was gangraped & murdered in a temple because she belonged to a Muslim tribe that Hindu right wing goons wanted evicted from their area! #Kathua #India this is on us!!!! If in #Delhi pls join TODAY #JusticeforAsifa (sic).”

Comic actor  Vir Das asked the people to set aside political differences and unite to fight the perpetrators of the crime.

“I can’t breathe after reading this. I need to share it. And so do you. Please do. Justice for Asifa. Dear politicians, I’d like to see every one of you miserable scum and your army of slimy sycophants put your parties and your bullsh*t aside and do something to make sure that no child ever has to face what this girl did. But you won’t. Because you don’t deserve this country,” he tweeted.

Riteish Deshmukh wrote, “A 8-year-old is drugged, raped & murdered and another one is fighting for justice for herself and the death of her father in custody. We have a choice either raise your voice or be a silent spectator. Stand up for what is right even if you are standing alone.”

Filmmaker Shirish Kunder shared a news article and wrote, “Please read this. If your blood boils, please share it. Because at a time when there’s a section of people supporting these monsters, it’ll mean some humanity is still alive.”

Tisca Chopra also tweeted, “So pained to read about #Unnao & #Kathua rapes.. how strongly the government responds will be its true test @PMOIndia… At least I won’t vote for them coming elections if they don’t take action this time.”

Actor Rahul Bose called the incidents gut wrenching.

“Unimaginable depravity that is disturbing on so many levels. Our response will decide what we have become as a society,” Bose added.

Actors Ranvir Shorey and Richa Chadha attacked the people who defended the accused in the name of religion.

“If these people had an iota of reverence and respect for Hinduism, they’d be up in arms against the people who used a temple to torture, rape and murder a child! These are slogans to be used when the people who have committed these crimes are hanged! Utterly appalling those slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ are being used to defend perpetrators of heinous crimes. These vicious beasts will destroy India and Hinduism. Unnao and Kathua,” Shorey said

“These men fast on Navratras and pray to Devi Ma, yet they defend a man who plotted the rape, torture and murder of a child inside a temple. Look at them, Shame them. If a stray news report can make credible people. Hindu haters why are these fake Hindus not unemployed,” Chadha tweeted.




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