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Kathua Rape, Murder: Kashmiris put up united face for punishment to culprits

Srinagar: Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Yasin Malik along with Leaders of joint Hurriyat and locals holding placards and shouts slogans during protest march against the rape and murder of 7-year-old Kuthua girl Aasifa and demands for stern punishment to accused,in Srinagar on Thursday. PTI Photo by Umar Ganie

SRINAGAR: Showing a united face, people from all religions, Hurriyat, traders, and civil society groups, in Kashmir on Thursday protested against rape and murder of an 8-year-old Kathua girl.
Joint Hurriyat, comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Mohammad Yasin Malik, had called for the protest against the rape and murder of the nomad Muslim girl in Kathua district of Jammu region.
Geelani and Mirwaiz were kept under house arrest.
However, a protest rally, led by Malik, tried to march towards Lal Chowk from Abi Guzar.
In the rally, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, traders, civil society groups participated, and demanded strict punishment to the culprits.
As soon as the protesters started marching towards Lal Chowk, police detained Malik along with several others.
Prior to that, Geelani, in his telephonic address to the media, condemned the “barbaric act”.
“Islam teaches us to protect the dignity of women. There are some people who feel pleased in raping and murdering women,” he said.
Geelani, Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G), said, “Indian, being a powerful nation, is suppressing the weak voices.”
“Men in uniform raped and killed Asifa. Had the police and civil administration in Jammu shown some seriousness, this incident could have been avoided. Culprits were investigating the case,” the octogenarian said.
He said it was “shameful” for BJP leaders to participate in a rally in Jammu and supporting the rapist.
“It is a big blot on humanity. It is also shameful that civil administration and police allowed the rally in favour of the rapist and killers.”
Geelani said he was “pained” at the rape and murder of the girl.
“It is a slur for those praising India as a great democracy. They are shielding criminals and it is very disgusting, deplorable and horrific that the rally was held in Kathua led by a BJP leader in support of the special police officers arrested for rape and murder of the girl,” he said.
He said Gujjars were being harassed in Jammu.
“Their properties are being looted and their chastity being continuously tarnished,” he said.
He appealed the people from all sections of society and particularly non-Muslim community and human rightist groups in Jammu to come in support of victim’s family so that “perpetrators are punished for their heinous crime”.
On January 17, the body of the girl was found in the forests near Rasana, Hiranagar. She had been missing for a week.
The police claim she had been abducted and raped.
According to some reports, she had been drugged so that she could not cry for help.
So far, three persons including two policemen have been arrested. On February 14, the Hindu Ekta Manch led by the BJP leader held a protest march in favour of the accused persons in the rape and murder case.
In his address, Mirwaiz said that BJP was “shielding” the culprits involved in the heinous crime. “BJP leaders held the rally in support of the culprits and are harassing Gujjars. Gujjars are also being boycotted,” Mirwaiz claimed.
He blamed the PDP-BJP government in the state for “strengthening” the communal forces.
“Since the PDP-BJP government has come to the power in JK, Gujjars and common Muslims are being harassed in the state,” he said.
He said that some people were giving this incident a “communal” colour.
“Instead seeking punishment, some people are supporting the perpetrators,” Mirwaiz, who is heading the Hurriyat Conference (M), said.
He warned the government to be ready for consequences if there is delay in punishing the culprits.
Malik, the JKLF Chairman, said that it had never happened when the rally was held in favour of the rapist.
“The fascist government in New Delhi is harassing Muslim in the name of love jihad, and beef,” he said.
Apparently referring to Mehbooba Mufti, Malik said that the party, which claimed before elections would “protect the martyrs”, has maintained the silence.
“Now a rally is being allowed by her government and supporting the rapist and killers,” he said.
“India is getting exposed. It is also an insult to their religion to support the rapist,” he said.
Kashmiri Pandit leader and academician, Professor Vaishnavi, while seeking punishment to culprits, said that “JK was political disturbed not the mentally disturbed”.
“Everyone should listen to their conscience and seek harsh punishment to the culprits. Either government has no will to punish culprits or is morally weak,” he said.
Christian father Veenu appealed the government to give harsh punishment to the culprits. “We condemn this incident and everyone should seek strict punishment,” he said.
Davendar Singh from Sikh community, traders, civil society leaders, and people from other walks of life also participated in the rally.
Meanwhile, a civil society group also held a protest at Srinagar’s Pratap Park against the incident.
Professor Hameeda Nayeem claimed that Muslims were being “harassed” in Jammu.
“The culprits should be given strict punishment instead shielding them,” she said.
A civil society member, Shakeel Qalandar, said that they stand with the family of the girl.
“We stand with Gujjars. We want justice should be given to the family like in the Nirbhaya or in Zainab case,” Qalandar said.
Several other protests were also held in Kashmir, seeking punishment to the culprits for raping and murdering the girl.