Mehbooba rebukes protesting lawyers, promises justice for Kathua rape victim

A file photo of demonstrators demanding justice for eight-year-old nomad girl Asifa, who was abducted and gang-raped for over a week before she was stoned to death by her captors in January 

After lawyers tried to prevent the police from filing a charge sheet in Asifa case, J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti said “law will not be obstructed by irresponsible actions and statements of a group of people”

Amid soaring communal tensions in Jammu and Kashmir over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomad girl, Asifa in Kathua, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday rushed to New Delhi and called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The CM reportedly briefed both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister over possible repercussions of politicisation and communalisation of the case. She is also learnt to have complained against the state BJP leadership, saying that their conduct was fomenting trouble for the state government.

Asifa was allegedly abducted, drugged, raped, tortured and killed in January this year. The 15-page charge sheet filed by the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police in the chief judicial magistrate's court on Monday explains that the entire crime was part of a preplanned strategy to scare away the minority Bakerwal nomadic community from the area.

A day after her meetings in New Delhi, on Thursday, Mufti said that proper legal procedures are being followed, investigations are on the fast track and justice will be delivered in the case. Referring to Jammu lawyers backed by several Hindu nationalist groups who enforced a Jammu bandh on Wednesday, and earlier tried to prevent the police from filing the charge sheet in Kathua court, the CM wrote on Twitter: “the law will not be obstructed by the irresponsible actions and statements of a group of people”.

On Thursday, Union minister VK Singh expressed distress at the gang-rape and murder incident. “We as humans have failed the eight-year-old girl, but she will not be denied justice,” Singh said.

Having come under scathing criticism, the Jammu Bar Association—which has been protesting since April 4—is likely to call off its ongoing strike this evening, according to sources. Bar president BS Salathia today denied that Wednesday's bandh was over the rape. He claimed that the bandh was held over two demands including eviction of Rohingya refugees from Jammu, and withdrawal of minutes of the meeting of Tribal Affairs Department chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on February 14.

As many as eight people have been arrested in the case so far. The accused include a retired revenue department official Sanji Ram, 60, who planned the crime to instil fear among the Bakherwal nomads, special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Sanji Ram's nephew, his friend and Sanji Ram's son Vishal Jangotra besides head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta.

Sanji Ram allegedly paid a bribe of ₹4 lakh out of the settled amount of ₹5 lakh to sub inspector Anand Dutta for covering up the investigation initially conducted by him to shield the accused persons, according to the charge sheet. A special investigation team of Crime Branch conducted its investigation under the monitoring of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Bollywood celebrities demand justice for Asifa

Hashtag #JusticeForAsifa is trending high on social media since the chilling details about the rape-murder case have emerged. See here how Javed Akhtar, Faran Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor, Simi Garewal, Shirish Kunder and others have reacted the the developments on the Asifa case on Twitter:

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