14, May 2018 | Sushmita
Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM), the radical right-wing organisation that held a rally in support of the Kathua rape accused, is at it again. As if it wasn’t enough to wave the tricolour and make the accused come across as heroes who had been framed, HEM is now allegedly threatening the man who provided land to bury the little girl who was brutalised in Kathua.
Mohammad Rafiq, who had provided his land for the burial of the minor girl in Kathua earlier this year, claimed that a leader of HEM was threatening him. The man, who also belongs to the nomadic community of Gujjars who is a resident of the Gujjar Basti Nandi had provided his land for the burial of the eight year girl whose disfigured body was recovered on January 17, seven days after she went missing. The parents of the minor girl had faced difficulties in finding a burial ground for her. Rafiq has now filed a police complaint alleging that the Hindu Ekta Manch leader threatened and abused him in order to drive him out of the area.
CJP and its sister publication Sabrang have been consistently reporting on the Kathua rape issue even before it gained national prominence. CJP seeks justice for the Kathua victim and protection for the vulnerable Gujjar Bakarwal nomadic community. We envision a gender-just society where children can blossom into fuller human beings and attain their highest potential. Support CJP’s quest. Join the good fight, become a member!
A police officer confirmed the news saying, “We have received a complaint from Mohmamad Rafiq claiming that he was threatened by Sarpanch Kant Kumar”. In his complaint he said that Kant Kumar, a Manch leader, was threatening him to drive him out of the area, the officer added. A copy of the complaint may be viewed here:
Nomads leave Kathua: Migration or Exodus?
A majority of the members of the nomadic community migrated from Kathua as part of their annual migration, as well as out of fear of the hounding that followed them as protests across the country shook the perpetrators and they started intimidating them by various methods. Despite the fact that traditionally, a symbiotic relationship was shared between the Gujjar Bakkarwals and the Rajputs, this kind of denial led them to feelings of alienation and they fled away in the aftermath of the event.
However, Rafiq didn’t move as he and a few others have built permanent residential structures in the area.
HEM has been unrelenting in its vicious targeting of the Gujjar Bakarwal community despite the huge public outrage created in the aftermath of the brutal gangrape and murder of eight year old Bakarwal girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir.
You can watch how the Kathua Horror story unfolded, here:
Unmoved by the wide criticisms and flak that it received for carrying out a rally in Kathua in order to protect the accused, the group carries on with its assaults as also confirmed by Talib Hussain. As per a late night Facebook post on May 12 updated by Talib Hussain, the fiery and unstoppable Gujjar community lawyerwho is known in the region for his courageous and visionary leadership to the movement for forest rights and justice for the minor girl, said, “He was threatened by Sanghis to leave the area otherwise they will kill him and the members of his family, and are giving messages to Nomads to not come back. He and Mohammad Rashid Chaechi were warned to not enter in Hiranagar of District Kathua”
Several other measures to drive the community out of the region took place as the incident came to limelight. The PHE blocked their water supply in the area from January 17 till January 27, apparently in a bid to cause more troubles for the community.
Talib Hussain also said in his post that this incident once again reaffirms how the nomadic community of Gujjar-Bakarwals isn’t safe in the area. Hussain was earlier quoted as saying, “If the tribals and nomadic communities had basic rights over forest land, the little girl would not be so vulnerable“
He has been at the forefront of the struggle for forest rights for the nomadic community in the area, a campaign he thinks is essential in order to facilitate safety and better living conditions for the community.
On the other hand, the HEM and other right wing groups have been constantly fuelling the episode with their communal agenda. They, not only took out a rally for the accused, but also carried out other rallies with intentions of attacking the nomadic communities and to instill fear in their minds.
They also demanded a CBI inquiry into the episode but their demand was summarily rejected by the Supreme Court on May 7, 2018.
The right wing outfit was formed soon after the girl’s body was found in Kathua. A meeting took place between BJP and Congress leaders in the region. Three BJP leaders including a legislator representing Hiranagar, and two former Congress legislators came together at the Parshu Ram temple in Kathua, to form the Manch with a large group of people including Sanji Ram- the caretaker of the Devisthan temple where the girl was kept, raped and murdered. Sanji Ram has been named as the “mastermind” behind the incident in the police chargesheet.
Not only the BJP and Congress, the Manch also comprised of one leader from National Conference (NC) and came out in defence of the men accused of rape.
In the aftermath of the nationwide outrage, BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga who participated in the rally to protect the accused were made to resign and a cabinet reshuffle was promised. However, the BJP appointed Rajiv Jasrotia,another minister who participated in the same rally in order to appease its local cadres and constituency. Variousnewspapers reported that the BJP couldn’t have displeased the local MLAs who threatened to break the BJP-PDP alliance.
With this alleged attack on Mohammad Rafi, HEM’s communal agenda seems to be coming a full circle where a person is attacked for providing a burial ground to a small child who was violated in the most brutal and traumatic way.
*Image Courtesy Saif Arash