On 10th January 2018, an 8-year old girl name Asifa Bano was abducted, raped and murdered brutally in Rasana village near Kathua in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.
According to the police report, 8 men abducted her and tortured her for 7 days till her body which was discovered on 17th January 2018 in a dismal condition. A complaint was lodged by Asifa’s father Mohammed Yosuf on 12th January as her daughter went out 2 days back to look after the grazing horses but never came back.
On 17 January 2018, the dead body of the victim was found and taken into custody by the police to allow an autopsy to be conducted. The postmortem was conducted by a team of doctors at the District Hospital in Kathua at 2:30 PM on the same day.
The examination by the doctors found that the girl had been drugged with a sedative before she was raped and murdered. Forensic evidence suggested that she had been held for several days and had been raped multiple times by different men and that she had been strangled to death, as well as hit in the head with a heavy stone.
On 22 January 2018, the investigation of the case was taken up by Crime Branch and Crime Headquarters Jammu and Kashmir. A statement released by the police listed seven individuals who had been arrested and charged over the crime, including four police officers. A total of eight people have been arrested. Two of the police officers were arrested on suspicion of attempting to destroy evidence, and also stand accused of accepting money to cover up the incident. One of the accused claimed to be 15 years old, though a medical examination later suggested he was 19. Sanji Ram, one of the accused, was described by the police as having devised the plan of kidnap and murder. The charge sheet against the seven adults accused of the crime was filed on 9 April. The accused were charged under Sections 302, 376, 201 and 120-B of the Ranbir Penal Code.
When the charges were filed in April. A widespread protest hit the nation and demand for capital punishment for the criminals were voiced all throughout the nation. The city of Kolkata also showed there compassion and voice against the heinous crime that happened against that little girl. From students to seniors to every part of society joined hand to demand and claim for the suitable punishment for the criminals.
I was there documenting all. Kolkata city which is known as the city of joy, who when time demanded became a City in Protest.
Various NGO’s joined and took to the streets with banners and slogans to protest against the atrocities that happened against Asifa Bano.
The incident resulted in widespread anger across Jammu and Kashmir with few people trying to gain some ulterior motive in the name of politics and religion.
Right-wing Hindu groups staged protests against the arrests of the accused individuals, who are all Hindus. Two ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Forest Minister Lal Singh Chaudhary, and Industries Minister Chander Prakash, attended one of the protests. One of the protesters told The New York Times that the arrests were “against our religion”, and stated that the protesters would burn themselves if the accused were not released. While attempting to file charges against the accused on 9 April, the Crime Branch police were met with protests from lawyers in front of the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s office in Kathua. The lawyers were protesting in support of the Hindu Ekta Manch, and tried to prevent the charges from being filed; the charge sheet was submitted eventually after police reinforcements arrived. This support for individuals accused of rape led to widespread social outrage.
Kolkata showed the exception where even the men joined hand in protest against the hypocrisy that was happening in J&K.
The young generations were not far behind as students from many renowned universities of the city joined the march in protest. Students of Presidency University organized a Lantern march through the city demanding punishment against the accused.
Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi stated “I would like to reassure the nation that none of the guilty persons will be spared. Justice will be done. All of us will have to work together to end this evil within our society,”
The trial for the Kathua murder and rape case began in Jammu and Kashmir on 16 April 2018 before the Principal Sessions Court judge, Kathua. The second hearing is scheduled for 28 April 2018. The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Jammu and Kashmir government regarding shifting the trial to Chandigarh by 27 April 2018. The judgment still pending….
About Debarchan Chatterjee
I’m a street and documentary photographer belonging from Kolkata, India. My genre is human interest and I love documenting the people of this city and their stories. Currently working as a freelance photojournalist for Pacific Press Agency, my work takes me to a various destination where I get to interact with people and know their voices, their conflicts, their daily struggle and happiness and I love doing this. Working as a photographer for past 3years, I am a storyteller taking the untold stories of the city to the world.
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