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Kathua Rape, Murder: Bakerwals fear their families may be harmed during summer migration

Srinagar, Feb 20: Post rape and murder of a minor girl, Bakerwals at Hiranagar, Kathua, fear that their families may be harmed when the men will move to the higher pastures in summer.
Eight-year-old Asifa of Rasana village in Hiranagar was raped and murdered last month.
Investigating the case, the Crime Branch of police has arrested a Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria as the main culprit, while his colleague and a boy have also been detained.
The minor had been, reportedly, kidnapped by the accused and drugged, during detention, to keep her from seeking help. And all this, as per the media reports, was done to instil fear in the minority Muslims.
“We fear our elderly, ill, and the women, who stay back for being weak, will be harmed when we move to the upper reaches in summer,” Ali Jan, the victim’s uncle told The Kashmir Monitor over phone.
Jan said they have been “living in a state of fear”.
“This is happening for the first time. Our forefathers have been living here for decades, but now we are being forced to flee.”
Haji Jabbar, a member of the Bakerwal community, said, “Hooliganism will harm us.”
“I stay home, but many others move to the upper reaches in summers. There is a fear that our elderly and others, who stay home, will be harmed,” Jabbar said.
Shockingly, ‘Hindu Ekta Manch’ staged a rally to demand release of the accused SPO. Holding the tricolour, men and women marched on the streets, surprising the public as well as the administration.
During the rally, Jabbar said, a youth went live on Facebook “to threaten of dire consequences if the rape and murder accused was not released”.
Sarpanch of a nearby village who was in the rally “threatened to create havoc” in the area, he said.
“Rest of the people in the majority community are very good, but there are some people who want to add fuel to the fire,” he said.
“It is only a small number of them that is creating this trouble for us. It is all vote-bank politics, and majority here are BJP supporters.”
Legislator Hiranagar, Kuldeep Raj, said that the local administration was “alert and keeping an eye on everybody”.
Calling the incident “distressing”, Raj said, “No element will be allowed to vitiate the atmosphere.”
About a BJP leader reportedly taking part in the pro-rapist protest, Raj said, “We have nothing to do with a fellow party man doing this. We have a clear stand on this incident.”