Vol. XLIII No. 24 June 16, 2019

AIDWA Welcomes Verdict in Kathua Case

THE All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), in a statement issued on June 11, has welcomed the judgement of the Pathankot sessions court which has convicted three main accused of rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir on January 10, 2018 to life imprisonment. Sanji Ram, one of the main convicted is the priest of the temple where the crime took place. He has been supported by the Hindu Ekta Manch which has the backing of the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir. The other three convicted police officers who took a bribe of Rs four lakh  to destroy crucial evidence and suppress the case, have been granted a lighter sentence of five years jail plus a fine of Rs 50,000 each. The son of the main accused, Sanji Ram, has been acquitted.

While welcoming the punishment of life imprisonment to the three main convicted, AIDWA strongly feels that the convicted police officers should have been given maximum punishment and a heavy fine under Section 201. It would have sent a signal that when those who are supposed to uphold the law, themselves help criminals, it will attract the harshest punishment.  AIDWA calls upon the prosecution team to appeal against the light sentences and acquittal of one of the accused. It also calls upon the J&K administration to take strict action against the accused policemen and ensure that standard operating protocols are followed without any political pressure in other such cases.

Adv Deepika Singh Rajawat took up the case at a crucial time and ensured that the victim was properly represented despite threats to her own security. It is because of her efforts and the support that she got from democratic forces that the case was transferred out of the state and an SIT was formed to carry out impartial investigations. AIDWA salutes the work and courage of the lawyers and the police officers who withstood political pressure to implement the rule of law and get justice for the family of the victim.

It may be recalled that the ghastly nature of the crime had evoked an outrage in the country, largely because of the attempt of the BJP to communalise the situation. It was reported that the rape and murder was part of a conspiracy to evict the Bakarwals from Kathua and alienate their customary rights. The BJP ministers, who were a part of the J&K government and the Hindu Ekta Manch openly supported the accused and did all that they could do to bury the case including inciting or threatening lawyers to not represent the victim. Unfortunately, no action has been taken against the BJP ministers who have flouted the constitution which they have sworn to uphold. Also no steps have been taken against the Hindu Ekta Manch which brazenly supported the convicted and tried to prevent their arrests. AIDWA calls upon all democratic sections to defeat the designs of these forces and ensure that the punishments for the accused are carried through to their logical conclusion.