It very rarely happens that the people of Kashmir and those in the mainland India are on the same page. Indeed it is tragedy of sorts that both sides have for most part of their history looked at each-other as the ‘political other’. But this time around it is different. The brutal rape and murder of eight-year-old Bakerwal girl Asifa Banu of Kathua, has united people across the broad politico-ideological spectrum in their cries of justice for the victim. This is indeed laudable and this sanity needs to be cherished and preserved. For, it is this kinship which holds answers to some of the really touchy questions plaguing the politics in this part of the world, and could also define the roadmap for the resolution of many an otherwise intractable political problems.
Irrespective of how those who are out in open to side with the perpetrators of this heinous crime may want to explain it, fact of the matter remains that the poor Bakerwal girl was victimized just because of her lineage to a particular faith community, even when she herself was too little to appreciate the difference between a Hindu and a Muslim. Indeed the investigations carried out thus far too have confirmed this chilling reality that the entire conspiracy was hatched and then viciously executed to drive out a few Muslim families from the area. This was also corroborated by the fact that the locals of the area did not even allow the victim to be buried there after her mangled and mutilated body was handed over to the family.
What is still more tragic is that the locals appear to be completely unrepentant about this tyranny. And they have a reason for it – the cheerleading and encouragement that they have got from the members of the ruling BJP, with at least two ministers publicly siding with them, couldn’t have come about as a mere coincidence. Indeed looking at the involvement the Forest minister Chowdery Lal Singh and Industries minister Chandra Prakash Ganga in instigating the locals needs some close scrutiny, and must be made part of the larger probe if the idea is to go deep into the conspiracy to find out some larger and certainly very ugly truths.
BJP must also do some explaining – as to how the kind of behavior their ministers and other party leaders have exhibited gels with the catchy nationwide slogan on ‘Beti Bachao’’ (save the girl child)! On her part, the Chief Minister, who should ideally have expelled the two ministers from her cabinet right away, could take ruse of “coalition compulsions”, but the coalition partner BJP does not enjoy this privilege of ‘her helplessness’. It will have to come clean on the matter.
Coming to the Congress party. Though very late in reacting to the tragedy, the party nevertheless did well when its president Rahul Gandhi came out on the streets of Delhi for a midnight candle-light protest, to urge the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wake up to the sad reality of increased incidence of rape in the country. But as far as the party’s state leadership is concerned, there does not seem to be any end in its disjointed politics here. For long the party has been ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hound’, and even after having been electorally decimated for this inherent hypocrisy, the Congress leaders do not appear to have learnt any lessons.
Take this: On Thursday, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president asked the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to come clean on the involvement of two of her cabinet ministers (Singh and Ganga) in instigating trouble in Kathua region.”The Chief Minister should clarify her stand on the involvement of two senior ministers instigating trouble in Kathua with regard to the brutal murder and rape of an eight-year-old nomad girl Asifa,” JKPCC chairman G A Mir said, adding that said both the ministers should have been sacked on day-one for giving “communal colour” to the shameful act of rape and murder. Mir is right in his criticism of Chief Minister. But what about his party’s support to the agitation and ‘Bandh’ called by Jammu Bar Association other day? Notwithstanding what it says, Jammu Bar Association is openly siding with the perpetrators of the crime and had in fact called Jammu Bandh only to further this very cause, for which it has received enough brickbats even from their ‘religious kin’ in the mainland also.