[File photo of candlelight vigil recently held in Srinagar for Asifa. (Photo: Sanna Irshad Mattoo / kashmirnarrator.com)]
New Delhi: Expressing deep anguish over support by some Hindutva elements extended to the accused charge sheeted in baby Asifa rape and murder case, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday wondered how someone can protect the culprits of such evil.
Using Twitter to express his anguish, Rahul Gandhi said, "How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil? What happened to Asifa at #Kathua is a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished. What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child?"
In another Tweet Rahul Gandhi also said he would be joining the candlelight vigil held tonight at India Gate in solidarity for the 08-year-old baby. "Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does. Join me in a silent, peaceful, candlelight vigil at India Gate at midnight tonight to protest this violence and demand justice", he said.
The body of eight-year-old Asifa, a nomad Muslim girl, was recovered from Rasana forest in Kathua district on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing her family’s ponies. The girl was held captive, sedated and raped for several days at a local temple before she was murdered, according to the Jammu & Kashmir Police Crime Branch investigation based on DNA test, forensic evidence and post-mortem report.
Further investigation found the involvement of, among others, some senior police officers including former revenue official and alleged mastermind Sanji Ram (60). Sanji Ram surrendered before the crime branch on March 20 after his son Vishal was arrested from Uttar Pradesh, Greater Kashmir reported. A police constable and a sub-inspector were also arrested after the crime branch found they allegedly tried to destroy evidence after the crime.
A Right wing group by the name of Hindu Ekta Manch was formed after the arrests of the Police Officers in order to save the accused by communalising the issue. According to reports, two senior BJP ministers Chandra Prakash Gupta and Lal Singh attended a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch and directed the police not to make any more arrests. “What if a girl has died? Many girls have died here”, BJP minister Lal Singh has reportedly said.
Taking the same line, lawyers protested against the police and blocked the court in Kathua, Jammu, to prevent the Jammu and Kashmir Police Crime Branch from filing the chargesheet in the case. The protesting lawyers were demanding that the case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a probe instead of being handle by the Jammu and Kashmir investigative authorities. After the protest outside the Kathua court, members of the Bar Association called a press release saying that all Bar members "strongly condemn the conduct of the Crime Branch in dealing with the issue."
The police however filed the chargesheet despite the resistance by the lawyers. "We’ve filed charge sheet against seven accused persons and charge sheet against a juvenile person will be filed separately,” Inspector General of Police (Crime Branch) Afhadul Mujtaba said, adding “There was some resistance and that has been tackled”.
The protest by Hindu Ekta Manch and Kathua Bar Association invited widespread anger from all across including on Twitter. While a candlelight vigil was called tonight, #JusticeforAsifa was among the top trends of the day on the microblogging website.
"This beautiful baby haunts me. Perhaps every parent is similarly affected? The pig tails, the innocence... sedated, raped, head bashed in? Devastating to even think about. Citizens of India, where are we going?" noted journalist Sagarika Ghose wrote on Twitter.
Rajdeep Sardesai expressed his anguish in these words: "We have found a double pumpkin for the day; Nandakumar Chauhan, BJP MP from Khandwa says Asifa rape and murder is Pakistan 'conspiracy'. Utterly crazy, shameless and insensitive remarks."
Using her verified Twitter account, bollywood star Anushka Sharma wrote, "The cruelest form of evil is harming an innocent child. What is happening to the world we live in??? These people should be given the most severe punishment there is! Where are we heading as humanity?"
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