The father of the Kathua rape and murder victim, Yousuf, is being haunted by the fear that he won’t be able to get shelter and fodder for his cattle in Rasana. Mohammad Yousuf of the Bakarwal community, who owns goats, sheep and horses, has come to Delhi to appeal to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that his bank account, which he is not able to use now, should be made functional again. This joint account was opened to help the family after the painful incident of rape and murder of Yousuf’s daughter and to mobilise financial support for him to continue the legal battle.
Yousuf has come to Delhi for the first time and he looks quite frightened. His lawyer Mubeen Farooqui, who is fighting his case in Pathankot, had accompanied him to Delhi. Talking to National Herald, Mubeen Farooqui said that the joint account was opened in the names of Mohd Yousuf and the victim’s biological father, Mohd Akhtar, so that the financial help which was being sent from all over the country to help them fight the case could be deposited at one place. But now he is not able to draw money from this joint account, and no official information regarding this was sent to the family.
Bilal Zaidi of CrowdNewsing told NH that the family has so far received donation from various individuals and groups including an amount of ₹18.46 lakhs through on line fund raising drive by Delhi-based CrowdNewsing and another ₹50,000 by US based Rahbar Foundation. The family was able to access this money. But now, more donation has been deposited in this account. According to Yousuf and his lawyer, they have not been able to draw this money from the bank.
It’s important to note here that the eight-year old girl, who was adopted by Mohd Yousuf in Rasana village of Jammu’s Kathua district was gang-raped and brutally murdered on January 10. All eight accused are in jail.
After this murder, there were abominable efforts to provoke tension between the Hindus and Muslims in the area. The BJP and its supporters made shameful attempts to mobilise locals in favour of the rape accused. Because a large number of lawyers in Kathua were polarised, the case was shifted to the Pathankot court after the Supreme Court’s intervention.
The victim’s father, Mohd Yousuf, is not able to understand why he is not able to draw the moeny because the family was able to fight the case legally with the help of the money that was being deposited in this account. His lawyer tells that on July 10, Mohd Yousuf, received a call from the bank that since the source of the money coming into this account is not known, therefore they can not draw the money. After this, they went to the bank many times to know the details but they were not told anything nor was the account activated. Now they have been forced to come to Delhi to submit an application in this regard to the NHRC.
Mohd Yousuf is being haunted by the fear that if he is not able to get the grazing fields for his cattle in Rasana, where he has his house and where he has been living for past 30 years, how will his cattle survive?
Yousuf that the landlords of Rasana who earlier used to allow his cattle to graze in their pastures have now refused to allow them to enter those fields. They say that theybwill now give their grazing fields to the Hindu shepherds and not the Muslim Bakerwals.If so happens then we will be completely destroyed- he laments, “the cattle need grass and leaves to eat a field to roam about and eat. They do not understand Hindu or Muslim.” His voice chokes with tears saying this.
Yousuf’s lawyer says that this is a testing time for the Muslim Bakerwals. Many Bakerwal groups have not even come to that side of Jammu and Kashmir with their herd. Post Kathua, these nomadic people are struggling to protect their daughters, as well as their rights over open pastures.
But Mohd Yousuf has no where else to go because he has his house in the village and he has no other place to rear his cattle at least till March. The inability to draw money from his bank account has further increased his troubles. Advocate Marzook who is helping him with the case in Delhi says that if the National Human Rights Commission instructs the bank to reactivate the account then this family will at least have some support to survive in the winters.
You can watch the interview of Mohd Yousuf here:
This story was updated at 5 pm on Tuesday, November 13.