If you've not read, heard or reacted to the Kathua or Unnao rape case till now, it's time you woke up. The nation is burning over the rape of an eight-year-old and nobody, not even our politicians, can afford to be oblivious and stay in their bubbles, pretending all is well. What should have been an open and shut case, with a quick arrest and an even quicker sentencing has been turned into a political agenda by the parties because the eight-year-old was a Muslim and the rapists were Hindu. There are huge rallies and protests being carried out in Jammu but, shockingly, they're not asking for swift justice, they are asking for protection for the accused who are "one of their own". These rallies were led by an outfit called Hindu Ekta Manch led by two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members of Mehboob's cabinet.
The day before yesterday, the complete charge sheet of the case was made available to the public and, for a day, I managed to avoid every article about it. But last night, I gave in and decided to find out exactly what happened. I needed to know, I just did. And as I read the charge sheet, I couldn't keep a hold of my emotions. Here are some horrendous, heart-wrenching and absolutely terrible facts about the case that will make you stop believing in humanity.
Fact 1: While the missing person report was filed by Asifa's father on 12 January 2018, her dead body was found on 17 January 2018. On the same day, the main accused, Shubham Sangra, a minor, was called in for questioning. During the questioning, he lied about what exactly had happened since Asifa went missing.
Fact 2: On 22 January 2018, the case was transferred to Crime Branch and Crime Headquarters J&K but the case file was only handed over on 27 January 2018.
Fact 3: Shubham Sangra (Juvenile in conflict with the law or JCL) was handed over to the Crime Branch and during his questioning, held in front of his father and a social worker. The other accused were arrested. It was found that during the first week of January, the accused Sanji Ram, Shubham's maternal uncle and a retired government employee, put a plan in action to remove the Bakarwal from their village. Also involved in the conspiracy was Deepak Khajuria, an SPO in Police Department.
Fact 4: On 7 January 2018, accused Deepak, and a friend, purchased Epitril from a local chemist. This medicine is used to treat seizures of different types, sleep disorders and panic attacks.
Fact 5: On the same day, Sanji Ram told Shubham to kidnap Asifa, a Bakarwal girl, who grazed her horses near Ram's house. The next day, Deepak also lured him into kidnapping the girl by promising to help him pass in his board exams. JCL shared this plan with a friend and asked for his help in kidnapping the girl and bought manar - a local drug to administer to the victim.
Fact 6: On 10 January 2018, they kidnapped the victim. To render the victim unconscious, not only was she administered manar, she was also given 2 tablets of Epitril. They took her straight to the Devisthan where she was placed under a table and locked in a room.
Fact 7: Vishal Jangotra, Sanji Ram's son, was informed about the kidnapping on the phone and asked to come back if he wanted to "satisfy his lust". He arrived the very next day i.e. on 12 January, 2018 and on the same day, the victim was administered 3 tablets of Epitril.
Fact 8: On the same day, it was found that Sanji Ram had taken police officials into confidence and during the search for the missing girl, the police officials, especially Head Constable (HC) Tilak Raj, asked for the necessary payments to be made to the investigating officers. Do you know who made these payments? Sanji Ram's sister and the JCL's mother, Tripta Devi and she was friends with HC Tilak Raj.
Fact 9: Vishal Jangotra and JCL raped the little girl on 13 January 2018 while Sanji Ram performed rituals in the temple. After that, JCL administered 3 more tablets of Epitril, making it a total of 8 tablets.
Fact 10: Once Sanji Ram was told about the gang-rape, he directed the two, JCL and Vishal, to kill the victim. On his directive, Asifa was taken to a drain in front of the Devisthan. Once there, Deepak Khajuria asked the other accused to wait before they killed her because he wanted to rape the girl "one more time".
Fact 11: (Graphic content) After the rape, Deepak placed her head on his knee and tried to strangle her. When she did not die immediately, JCL killed her by pressing his knees against her back and strangulated the girl by applying force on both the ends of her chunni. After that, he hit her on the head with a heavy stone twice to ensure she was dead. Do not picture it, for your own sanity, do not!
Fact 12: Since they could not arrange a getaway vehicle, they dumped the body in the forest on 15 January 2018 as keeping her dead body in the Devisthan became unsafe. The same day, he boasted of his crime to another friend, Amit.
Fact 13: When HC Tilak Raj, On 17 January 2018, went to Sanji Ram to handover one accused as things were getting out of hand because of the Bakarwal agitations, Sanji Ram bribed him with 2.5 lacs more to be paid to the SI Anand Dutta. The next day, JCL was taken in for questioning.
Fact 14: Sanji Ram directed JCL to not take the name of his son, Vishal and JCL admitted to the charges of kidnapping and the murder of the victim before SSP Kathua. SI Dutta warned JCL to stick to the tutored version and to take the blame on himself.
Fact 15: It was found that the accuse,d Sanji Ram had kept a good amount of cash ready in advance to pay off the officials. SI Dutta also took JCL to various crime scenes and clicked pictures of him to lend an element of truthfulness to his concocted story. SI Dutta and HC Tilak Raj also washed the victim's clothes to remove clay, blood stains and semen from it before forwarding the same to the forensic lab.
Fact 16: Major pieces of evidence were left out by the Investigating Officer to give benefit to the accused, not even the chunni she was strangled with.
Fact 17: Even after the barbaric rape and murder of the minor girl, the accused are being defended by the political party in power only by the virtue of their religion.
If this does not make you angry or want to cry, what will? Maybe we do need a higher power to save us now! I'll take anyone I can get, from Lord Rama to Allah to Jesus Christ as long as our daughters are safe. Please, #BetiBachao.
No more deaths, definitely #notingodsname!