Mumbai: An overwhelming more than 550,000 people have signed an online petition seeking justice for 08-year-old Asifa who was abducted, sedated and gang-raped in a temple before being strangled to death.
The petition by Women's initiative for Justice for Asifa had only 6,000 signatures when it was started about a month ago. However, it received more than 550,000 signatures after nationwide anger against the incident which erupted last week following the protest in favor of the accused by Khatua Bar Association and lawyers who tried to prevent the Jammu & Kashmir police from filing the charge sheet in the case.
Such is the anger against the incident that the online petition received more than 150,000 signatures only today. Among those who started the online petition include Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor Kashmir Times, Nighat Shafi Pandit, Founder-Chairperson of HELP Foundation, Neerja Mattoo, Writer and Educationist (Retd. College Principal), Shehla Rashid Shora, Former vice president JNU Students Union, Nitasha Kaul, Academic, writer and poet, Dr Syeda Afshana, Columnist and faculty at MERC, University of Kashmir and others.
“We call upon all political groups to put an end to the horrifying politicization and communalization of the crime; as well as to stop the harassment to the family of Asifa. As women, we are extremely shocked and appalled by the manner in which incidents of gender oppression are appropriated by patriarchal mindsets within and outside the corridors of power to subvert justice and even rob the victims of their victimhood”, the women activists said in the petition.
“We also call upon the government to ensure that investigations by the Crime Branch are fast tracked and are fair to be followed by a fast track court trial so that justice can be dispensed”, they added.
Stating that there is a deliberate attempt to hush up the case by building up a communal narrative around the heinous crime and its investigations, the activists said, “Shockingly, the vested interests trying to sabotage the investigations through the communalization of the crime and its politicization do not only include a fringe right wing group but also two sitting senior ministers in the PDP-BJP ruling alliance. Such a situation has further encouraged other political groups to counter the narrative not from the victim’s perspective but for petty political goals and for fueling the communal discourse.”
Asifa Bano’s body was found in the forests of Rassana on January 17, a week after she went missing. Her body bore torture marks and she had been raped before she was killed. It need not be elaborated that Asifa belonged to the marginalised and downtrodden nomadic tribe whose vulnerability and victimization is well recorded, they observed in the petition.
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