Kathua rape case widens rift between Jammu and Kashmir: Victim's family 'satisfied' with police, villagers seek CBI probe
As the Kathua rape and murder incident continues to shake the nation, people who are directly — and indirectly — linked to the case reveal how it resulted in a communal slugfest that's widening the rift between Jammu and Kashmir
As the Kathua rape and murder incident continues to shake the nation, Firstpost travelled to Rasana village in Jammu to speak to people who are directly — and indirectly — linked to the case, to understand how the incident resulted in a communal slugfest and is widening the rift between the regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
Father of the rape and murder victim: "On 10 January, our daughter went missing. On 11 January, we filed a report (in the police station), and on 17 January, we found the dead body. A person namely Jagdish, who is a shepherd, was walking his livestock. He found the body and told us. Then we called the police. The police did not go near the body. Neither did we. A doctors' team was brought from Kathua and they took her.
Do you want the investigations to be handed over to the CBI or do you want it to remain with the Crime Branch?
Whatever Crime Branch has done so far is satisfactory. They have done a good job. They got sniper dogs, and the next day, we realised who was behind this. Because they went to his house. Then he told them everything, where she was kept and what they did to her.
Will you go to the house where you used to live?
We have to go after five-six months. For the moment, we have moved on. We would have to go back because we have land there. But we will have to come back. I will always remember her; when we come down from the hills, she was with us. But now we are going back to the jungles and she is not. We will remember her always.
Ankur Sharma (Jammu-based advocate who is appearing for five out of the eight accused in the case): "The Crime Branch's chargesheet is communally and politically motivated. It was never written in the chargesheet that the crime was committed to drive a particular community out of this place. This clearly establishes that it's not just the investigating agency, but also other minds who are involved in preparing this chargesheet. As far as evidence in the chargesheet is concerned, they are all manufactured. Except for false accusations, there is nothing there against the accused. Until there is a CBI investigation, the truth will not be known, and that child will never get justice. That is why I say that the conduct of the Crime Branch has proven that storylines were changed, and people were tortured to extract confessions. Evidence was not gathered; this kind of evidence will not result in justice for the child.
I have spoken to the doctor sahib who was initially conducting the investigation, and he too had talked to his friends, saying it was not a rape, but only murder. It was said later that the Crime Branch was influencing that doctor and they were threatening to name him in the chargesheet, but he withstood that pressure. I think the medical record was kept under the garb, but the accused families had received the medical report. The FSL report was also not there when the judicial magistrate asked for it. That is the reason the court said the Crime Branch investigation was unwarranted.
Kant Kumar, Rasana sarpanch: I think this is a big conspiracy. Although I am the local sarpanch, we did not receive any information. But politicians from Ramban and Kashmir are coming here and raising anti-national slogans. They took out a rally from the village to create an atmosphere of fear, and said they will take out a rally in the area. That's what we were against and when we had a meeting on 30 January, we called for a meeting in a mandir. Between 400 and 500 people gathered and we called the DC and SSP and told them that the situation will get out of control if these people do a thing like this.
And it will be the administration that's responsible for this. It's been three months that we are on strike, and we have been able to ensure there is no goondagardi (hooliganism) here. That the enmity between the two communities is not violated. But Kashmir-based leaders, particularly Mehbooba Mufti, I don't consider her our chief minister. She is the chief minister of Kashmir. They have always sidelined Jammu and they always tried to suppress us. The Rasana case is the living example of that.
We want everyone to get justice, particularly the girl, and she will get only justice if there is a fair investigation. If there is a partial investigation, even if you arrest 10-15 people, the girl will not get justice. The Kashmiri people, they are saying this is not a rape and murder case, but they have made it a communal case. The girl has been made a commodity and people are talking about Hindus and Muslims. These are the things we don't like. People here are saying that we don't trust the Crime Branch because it's under Mehbooba Mufti.
Madu (daughter of alleged ringleader Sanji Ram): Firstly, you can see what we have written on this. We want a CBI inquiry. We have been demanding one for the last three months, not just for 15-18 days. We want a fair inquiry. A person who thinks this isn't a fair demand should visit the spot and see what the problem is.
The SIT came and took a few names on the first day. On that day itself, they arrested these people, and those who saw them could see that there was no investigation taking place. Those people were administered third-degree torture and were told to confess. If the CBI comes in, is there any way the culprit will be safe? You must have seen criminal cases. If a CBI inquiry happens, the innocent people will be released and culprits will be arrested, and the victim will finally get justice.
The victim's uncle, meanwhile, has said the family is scared of moving back to its village, fearing retaliation from the accused.
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