Kathua rape case: Whistle blower claims threat to life 

Bakerwal lawyer-activist, who has been at the forefront of demonstrations seeking justice for eight-year-old girl raped and murdered in Kathua, faces threat to life and limbs from VHP-BJP supporters 

Photo courtesy: Social media 
Photo courtesy: Social media

Ashutosh Sharma

On Saturday Talib Hussain could barely speak over the phone. In obvious pain, the advocate recalled how a mob set upon him on Friday evening at Udhampur when he criticised those siding with rapists and murderers of the eight year old in Kathua.

Talib - who himself belongs to the Bakerwal community - was roughed up hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the nation that no offender would be spared and that India’s daughters would receive justice, breaking his long radio silence on Kathua and Unnao rape cases. Soon after the PM’s reaction, two BJP ministers in the state coalition government, who had earlier stood with the rape accused, offered their resignation letters to the state BJP president but not the chief minister.

Talib was reportedly participating in an open debate organised by News18 in a public park in Udhampur when the incident took place. “When I described how police violated guidelines of the Supreme Court when the girl went missing and her parents tried to file a report, local BJP leaders and RSS activists started jostling me.”

“Within no time, they started raining kicks and punches on me. I was rescued by the timely intervention of others at the gathering,” said Talib, talking to NH over phone. “They also threatened me of dire consequences. If anything happens to me, the state BJP, RSS and other Hindutva groups including Hindu Ekta Manch would be responsible for it,” he added.

Even though the News18 journalist, Anurag Dhanda, who anchored the debate, did not comment on the incident, but shared a clip of his programme on Twitter. In the video one can see some people in the gathering manhandle the lawyer. The debate can be viewed here:

Even though he has filed a complaint against three attackers in Udhampur police station, police have not filed an FIR in the case so far.

Talib was earlier arrested on January 21 along with other members of the Bakerwal community for taking out a protest rally against the local administration and the police for their inaction.

He was released only after the opposition staged a protest inside the state Assembly, demanding suspension of the police officers responsible for his arrest. The House also saw heated exchange between the ruling BJP and the opposition leaders after a local BJP legislator, Rajiv Jasrotia, hinted that someone from the child's family had committed the crime.

Talib had been highly critical of the lawyers who tried to block filing of charge sheet in the case, besides a bandh call given by the Jammu Bar Association in an alleged attempt to pit members of the majority community in Jammu against the pastoral nomadic communities of Gujjars and Bakerwals.

BJP spokesperson Brig. (Retd) Anil Gupta had recently shouted Talib down during a television debate on politicisation of the rape and murder incident, alleging that he is responsible for fomenting trouble. “You brought 200 men from somewhere and blocked the national highway,” Gupta said during the noisy TV debate, accusing Talib of being a “liar, a communal person, who tried to create wedge between Hindus and Muslims.”

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