Braving threats, Kathua victim's lawyer says fight's for her daughter
When lawyers of Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association brandished sticks and stopped the crime branch from filing a chargesheet in the Kathua rape-murder case, Deepika Singh Rajawat was seeking justice for the 8-year-old victim. She was threatened by the Jammu High Court Bar Association's President but didn't bow down. For Rajawat, it's as much a fight for her five-year-old daughter as for the victim.
Rajawat, the chairperson of NGO Voice For Rights that works for human rights, approached the victim's family in February. The poor shepherd family was always on the move, and could've been easily threatened, she said. "I felt I had to fight on their behalf." Rajawat herself wasn't unfamiliar with intimidation; she was once threatened by a judge (now in prison) who raped his maid.
BL Salathia, President of Jammu Bar Association, stopped Rajawat and advised her against taking the case, she said. "He told me that if 'you will appear, we know how to stop you'." Sensing trouble, she approached J&K High Court. The Chief Justice ordered the security wing to ensure her safety. Though threats never stopped Rajawat, she said the court's order makes her feel safer.
Speaking of the agitating lawyers, Rajawat said they just want attention. She added, "These lawyers are demanding the ouster of the Rohingya and others along with the nomadic tribes," and questioned their absence when the FIR was lodged.
The chargesheet in the case revealed chilling details, but the crime branch had lost valuable forensic evidence. The girl's body had allegedly been washed soon after it was found. The local police's refusal to lodge FIR for 2-3 days was another setback. Four cops had a role in botching up the evidence too. However, Rajawat is satisfied with the investigation.
At the centre of this conflict is the demand of protesting lawyers and locals to transfer case to CBI. That's not the best idea, felt Rajawat. "Does the CBI have a spotless record? I can rattle off cases that have been botched," she said. Satisfied with crime branch's groundwork, Rajawat hoped the case was transferred to some other part of Jammu instead.