Protestors, lawyers take out rallies during ‘Jammu Bandh’ over Kathua rape
The Jammu High Court Bar Association organised the protest against what it calls an attempt to target the “minority Dogras” and implicate them in the January rape-murder of the minor girl, who belongs to the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community.Updated: Apr 12, 2018, 01:00 IST
The Jammu High Court Bar Association’s call for a bandh (shutdown) protest against the alleged targeting of the Dogra community for the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl disrupted normal life in parts of the Jammu region on Wednesday.
Protestors blocked the Jammu-Pathankot national highway at Jatwal and Kootah Morh in Kathua district, where the incident took place, and in Samba town. The major impact of the protest was felt in Kathua, Samba, and Jammu districts. Markets were deserted and schools closed while road traffic was thin.
The bar association organised the protest against what it calls an attempt to target the “minority Dogras” and implicate them in the January rape-murder of the minor girl, who belongs to the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community. The victim was abducted in Kathua on January 10, kept captive, was sedated and raped in a temple before being murdered. Her body was discovered on January 17.
The Jammu region has been tense since the rape-murder surfaced. The police have arrested eight people in the case.
The incident, followed by the refusal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Jammu and Kashmir to conduct a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, has not only polarised the state politically but also caused a divide between Hindus and Muslims.
Lawyers supported by social and political organisations took out rallies on Wednesday. Clutching the Tricolour in their hands, the protestors shouted slogans against BJP ministers and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti while pressing for a CBI probe . Bar association president BS Slathia said the lawyers won’t’ budge from their demands.
Panthers Party chairman Harsh Dev Singh, who visited Kootah Morh in Kathua with his supporters and blocked the highway for some time, said: “Our people, including our mothers, sisters and daughters, are agitating for the just and genuine demand for a CBI probe. In a democracy, the voice of the people has to be heard and not stifled.”
He also lashed out at the supposedly ‘pro-Jammu’ BJP, saying, “The party has meekly surrendered before the PDP and has given up all the issues of Jammu to remain in power.”
The shutdown protest was peaceful and there were no reports of violence.
Reports said life was, by and large, normal in Udhampur, Reasi, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch, Doda and Kishtwar districts.
The state Congress said that it supported the Jammu Bandh call given by the Bar Association.
Party’s chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said, “We supported the Bandh call in principle because it was primarily against BJP-PDP government for its failures, especially of BJP on the issue of deportation of Rohingyas and on the controversial minutes of a meeting of the tribal affairs department.”
“As far as the Rassana rape and murder case is concerned, we want justice for the victim. It is a crime against humanity. The culprits should be dealt with sternly as per the law but BJP cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Initially, they supported a CBI probe now they say that the matter is sub-judice. The state government has mishandled the case. The agitation in Kathua is against the BJP and state government for its failure in handling the case,” Sharma added.