Many Indians will remember the girl from Kathua, whose alleged gangrape and murder got huge media coverage in the spring of 2018, comparable only to the huge media coverage of Nirbhaya in 2012. In Nirbhaya’s case, all the accused mentioned by the media had Hindu names, as they withheld the Muslim name of a juvenile. In Kathua, too, all accused had Hindu names. Yet while in Nirbhaya’s case, there was evidence that the accused were involved, because they were all in the bus, in the Kathua case, there was no evidence whatsoever. The whole story was based only on the ‘confessions’ extracted from a juvenile, Shubham, after 3rd degree torture in police custody.
However, the story he was originally made to confess, was quite unbelievable and became even more unbelievable, when a new Investigation team from Kashmir replaced the team from Jammu on Mehbooba Mufti’s instruction.
According to the later version, the 8-year-old Muslim girl was abducted by Shubham, held captive for several days in a small Hindu temple, gang-raped by Shubham and his cousin Vishal right in the temple, then killed, and thrown into the forest. The ‘mastermind’ was claimed to be the 60-year-old Sanji Ram Sharma, the uncle of Shubham and father of Vishal. But a special police officer, SPO Deepak Khajuria, also had allegedly told Shubham to abduct the girl. Five more persons were claimed to be involved, including Hindu police officers from the Jammu SIT team.
The evidence? No evidence but solely the ‘confession’.
Something didn’t seem right. Such a crime is unconceivable in a small village of 15 families where the inhabitants have great devotion for the deity of the temple. The village had no crime so far. Sanji Ram was a respected elder who looked after the temple. Could he really have planned the abduction, rape and murder of a small girl? A Hindu allowing his nephew and son commit rape of all places in Devasthan, a temple? And then casually tell them that now it’s time to kill her?
I feared that the small girl would not get justice, in spite of the massive outcry for justice on TV and social media. I feared that the real culprits are MEANT to get away and that great injustice will be done to innocent citizens – probably on purpose.
#JusticeForA**fa trended on Twitter. Bollywood stars and other celebrities held up placards mentioning “Devisthan” as the place of the gangrape to shame Hindus. An activist, Talib Hussein, whipped up public outrage against the accused and against Hindus generally through organized demonstrations. Hindu society as a whole stood accused, like in Nirbhaya’s case, and the world took notice.
Death sentence was demanded for the culprits. Villagers, lawyers and politicians from Jammu, who sensed that something was very fishy, came out in big numbers and demanded a CBI probe. But media used its clout to pronounce the accused guilty in a highly irresponsible way. A TV anchor shouted at panelists that they “support rapists and murderers”, only because they supported the demand for a CBI probe.
Thankfully, Madhu Kishwar has over three years painstakingly researched what happened. Her book has lots of documentation including parts of the charge sheet, interviews, screenshots, photos, and introduces the different persons and their role in this sad saga right at the start, with Mehbooba Mufti and PDP on top of the conspiracy hatchers at the behest of Pakistan. The last chapter talks about the wheel of karma, which meanwhile has hit Mehbooba Mufti, and several lawyers and activists, including Talib Hussein and even the judge Tejinder Singh, who got embroiled in a corruption case in 2020, unconnected with the Kathua case. The author also rues the tragic consequences of Hindu dhimmitude.
A second volume will be published soon with further documentation.
The facts presented in the book are startling and need to be taken notice of. The media needs to revisit the case, and one would wish that the judicial process would speed up, since in all likelihood, if not certainly, innocent people are languishing in jail, which should be unacceptable to everyone.
However, judging from the aggressive comments, which Madhu Kishwar got on Twitter for writing this book, the agenda, which was pursued by convicting those Dogra Hindus, may be further pursued.
According to the author this agenda is to drive out the Hindus of Rasana village, which is strategically important, as it is very close to the Pakistani border. Incidentally, this very same motive is attributed by the SIT to Sanji Ram without giving any evidence. SIT claimed that Sanji Ram and SPO Deepak Khajuara wanted to drive out the Muslim Bakarwal by committing this crime.
After the Kashmir valley, it’s the turn of Jammu to be vacated by Hindus and Islamized. Sanji Ram was aware of land grab by Muslims since he worked in the irrigation department and had resisted it. SPO Deepak Khajuria was in the forefront of fighting cow and drug smuggling. Both got life sentences. This surely serves as a warning for the other villagers that they also could be implicated in a crime they never committed, and therefore better move out.
The book is captivating, though very painful at times. It shows how ruthless those in power can be. Mehbooba Mufti comes under the scanner and how she used pliable, compromised ‘activists’ like Talib Hussein, and Muslim police officers to terrify the Hindu Dogras and especially their youths of whom some 230 were arrested without any arrest warrant.
It’s inexplicable, why the case did not unravel already in 2018, when evidence emerged that the charge sheet was obviously false. The only explanation seems to be that the investigation officers followed a script from above.
A glaring example: The charge sheet spins a story about Vishal, the son of Sanji Ram. It says that his cousin Shubham called him in Muzaffarnagar where he was in college, and told him to come to Kathua and ‘satisfy his lust’ with a girl which he, Shubham, holds captive. It further details, that Vishal reached on 12. January at 6 am, that he gangraped the girl together with Shubham in the temple and how he helped to dispose of her body.
However, Vishal was giving his exams at that time and the principal of the college, his landlady and his roommates testified that he was in Muzaffarnagar and NOT in Kathua at the crucial time.
Reading in the book, what happened next, left me shaken:
The J&K police officers took the CCTV footage of the college and never showed it to the judge. They told his landlady to destroy the photos which proved that he was in her house. And the most incredible thing: they arrested the 3 roommates of Vishal, took them to Kathua, tortured and told them what to say – to “prove” that Vishal was in Kathua.
Their narration, why they finally signed the police version (after their own brutal torture and after a completely broken Vishal was brought in, who pleaded with them to sign) is truly painful to read.
However, in front of the judge, the three roommates showed courage and stood by the truth. The judge declared them promptly as witnesses turned hostile and filed a case against them…
The conclusion from this is that truth didn’t count. Common Indians telling the truth were either ignored or coerced by torture, into telling untruth. It may be acceptable to give some pain to somebody, who evidently committed a brutal crime, to get at the full truth. But to inflict pain on common citizens to bolster untruth?
Fortunately, ZEE TV aired CCTV footage of an ATM where Vishal withdrew money and kept the footage in its possession. This was proof that Vishal was indeed not in Kathua. Yet in spite of it, he was kept in prison for over one year. The judge had to acquit Vishal, since the evidence of his innocence was in the public domain. Vishal was the only one who was acquitted.
The book reads like a thriller. Unfortunately, it really happened and how it will end, is not yet clear. The author did a great service in unearthing and documenting important facts and also curious incidents.
For example, the girl was photographed only once in her life – by her step brother 2 days before she disappeared. When Madhu Kishwar asked the foster mother of the girl why there are not more photos, she said that it is considered ‘haram’ in her community. Without this endearing photo of the innocent girl, which was, together with her name, illegally circulated, the massive emotional campaign to pronounce the accused guilty, and demean Hindus in general, might have met with much less success.
Justice must be done. So far, it seems, injustice was done – to the little girl and to those convicted for her murder in a sham investigation.
The subtitle of the book is: A Sacrificial Victim of Ghazwa-e-Hind.
Was the poor Muslim girl sacrificed for furthering the Islamization of Jammu? Incidentally, rape was not confirmed in the original post mortem report.
By Maria Wirth
(The book has 641 pages, publisher Garuda Prakashan, Rs 799)