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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Bakerwals hail Kathua rape and murder case verdict, say faith reaffirmed

india Updated: Jun 11, 2019 00:14 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
A member of the Bakerwal community rests en route to the Mughal Road, 80 kms from Srinagar in May 2018.
A member of the Bakerwal community rests en route to the Mughal Road, 80 kms from Srinagar in May 2018.(HT File Photo)

Since they started setting up camp near Rasana village in Jammu roughly four decades ago, the nomadic Bakerwal tribespeople have had numerous run-ins with the local Hindu population. The Bakerwals say Hindu men have tried to force them out of the village by misbehaving with their girls and kicking around vessels they use to collect water. The locals say Bakerwal Muslims try to construct a mosque and often graze cattle on land belonging to villagers. The hostilities had reached a head last year after seven local villagers were charged in connection with the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old Bakerwal girl.

But after Monday’s verdict that convicted six of the accused, the nomadic community hoped the decision wouldn’t cast a shadow on communal relations. “We want that the brotherhood remain the way it was. We as sensitive and responsible citizens should keep judiciary’s decision out of our mutual relations,” said Gujjar scholar and author Javaid Rahi.

Rahi welcomed the verdict and said it had reaffirmed their faith in the judicial system. “It has further strengthened our trust in the Indian judiciary. Our community Gujjar and Bakerwal community always stood for communal harmony,” he added.

Rahi said their fight was for justice and not a fight between the two communities. “Indian judicial system doesn’t believe in caste, creed and religion. We welcome the court verdict,” he added.