I understand why I am being targeted. This is not the first time I have found myself in the eye of a storm. If I live, I suspect, this will not be the last time either. I worked as a journalist with Hindustan Times before opting to become a lawyer and an activist. Threats and slander have followed me like a shadow in my professional life. So, I want to tell my detractors that I will not be cowed down by people protesting on the street, shouting in TV studios and by those attacking me on social media.
In 2013, I was expelled from the primary membership of the High Court Bar Association. I had raised the issue of a child’s death. The child had died under mysterious circumstances at the home of a judge, where he was employed as a domestic help.
I ruffled many feathers when I took up the brief against another judge charged with rape. Last month, he was denied bail by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. While denying bail to the accused judge, the judge hearing the case had said, “the petitioner (accused judge) has brought the institution of justice to ridicule.”
Threats and slander have followed me like a shadow in my professional life. So, I want to tell my detractors that I will not be cowed down by people protesting on the street, shouting in TV studios and by those attacking me on social media
In 2014, when a journalist brought into my notice the plight of landmine amputees along Line of Control with Pakistan in the border district of Poonch, the very next day I was there among the border residents. My daughter was hardly a few months old then. The distance between Jammu and mountainous Poonch district is over 230 kms. A few days later, I along with over 100 amputees held a demonstration outside Jammu Press Club to highlight criminal negligence on part of the government. Then I filed a PIL in the High Court and they were given some relief. The fight for their rehabilitation is still going on.
These are just few examples to cite for those who have been diligently spreading canards against me. Those who have been dubbing me as anti-Jammu must look at themselves in the mirror. It’s they who have brought a bad name to Jammu. I am least bothered about their political aspirations and agenda. As a lawyer, it is the Constitution of India that is my guiding light and humanity is my religion. Nothing else matters to me. As a lawyer I am just upholding the law and performing my professional duty.
Is it just a coincidence: lawyers who have been lampooning me have shown no regard towards their own profession and judiciary. They blocked filing of charge sheet against the accused persons irrespective of the fact that the investigation was monitored by the Honourable High Court. Subsequently, Jammu Bandh was enforced on the issue that was clubbed with two other political issues. They struck work for a fortnight and brought the courts to a standstill. But they are all honourable men!
But surprisingly, instead of taking legal remedies, they take to roads and create ruckus. Had they been worried about the arrested accused persons, they would have approached the court at an earlier stage. But they were silent till the filing of charge-sheet.
“Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” is a good slogan. But Mr Prime Minister what about the security of daughters? You have miserably failed to convince even your own party men. The BJP leaders in Jammu have been openly instigating people to get maximum political mileage out of the current turmoil. After filing their resignations, the two former ministers of your party are misrepresenting facts of the case and misleading the people in public rallies. They have unleashed a malicious propaganda for petty political gains. The Nirbhaya gangrape case had also created much outrage across the country. The law was strengthened but why it has not discouraged rape culture? I see no change on the ground in the last six years. We as a nation need to introspect.
A fair trial, I am now convinced, can’t be expected in the state when both the regions are so polarised on political, regional and on religious lines. The national outrage over the issue is overwhelming. But tomorrow the media will get occupied with other issues and shift their attention as they must.
The conviction of the accused persons is going to be a long-drawn-out battle.
But then when it comes to the poor and the downtrodden, the journey for justice is never a cake-walk.
(As told to Ashutosh Sharma)