I am a 25 years old. Hindu(I mentioned my religion here as Hindu instead of Indian for a cause), working girl. I live in a country called ‘India’. I was always taught about two ‘so called facts’ about my country. First being India is widely recognised by its culture, spirituality, secularism and a land of morality and the other one is quite contradictory. Probably not only I but every girl child in our country has been taught to hide themselves from the society and ‘male community'(despite-of religion, cast, class or creed) not to ‘Get Raped’.
70 years of Independence, a proud country with tag lines like largest population, developments, and cosmopolitan — and ‘RAPISTAN’. 14 May 2015, a 71 years old Nun was gang raped and brutally murdered in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh. A country called ‘India’ got highly criticised across the globe when extensive investigation and Justice concluded that the rape and murder allegations were false and freed the victims. 16 December 2012, Delhi rape case of a 23 years old student, August 2013, a 22-year-old photojournalist in Mumbai was gang raped by five including a juvenile, the politicised yet unresolved case of a 17 year old Dalit girl found raped and murdered — body in her hostel’s water tank and the lists are still on with 1000s of dates, names and some glorified evidences of nation protecting criminals or fighting for their lives. When a country’s glorified independence was standing firm on ‘Rape a women'(Though these were never discussed or disclosed before the society), I don’t understand for what we celebrated our independence, development and shamelessly, we still call ourselves as moral civilisation.
Do you or I know, During the Partition of India, violence against women was an extensive issue. It is estimated that during the partition, between 75,000 and 100,000 women were kidnapped and raped. The exact figures of abducted women are unknown and estimates vary. Leonard Mosley wrote that in total 100,000 girls were abducted on all sides. The Indian government estimated that there were 33,000 Hindu and Sikh women in Pakistan and the Pakistani government estimated that there were 50,000 Muslim women abducted in India. Andrew Major estimates that 40-45,000 women in total were abducted during the Partition riots, with approximately twice as many Muslim women as Hindu and Sikh women having being abducted. Masroor estimates that 60,000 Muslim women were abducted while Begum Tassaduq Hussain estimated that 90,000 Muslim women were abducted. India got Independence and divided, Formation of a new country happened. The world remembered 14 August 1947, as one of the prominent historical day and forgot to talk, act, discuss and decide rights for women who sacrificed their lives and pride for such fake glorification. What a Systematic violence!
Today, added to the never ending list of recorded/non-recorded Rapes in India, one of the most cultured country, while walking on a silent march , with a demand near Indian glorified constitution to hang those in-humans who gang raped and brutally murdered a 8 years old kid, in the name of Hindu-Muslim communal protection.
Asifa, the nomad girl who loved to take horses for grazing to the forest near her home in Rasana, a quiet village in Kathua district of Indian-administered Kashmir. The reason Asifa was picked as a target by ‘Sanji Ram’, who knew she ‘often comes to the forest’, was simple(and still supported by few brainless people); they wanted to drive the Muslim community out, according to the investigation. In captivity inside a temple, Asifa was drugged and raped, according to the police investigation. The police report described Asifa as an ‘innocent budding flower, a child of only eight years of age, who being a small kid became a soft target’.
The case was rooted in a sinister conspiracy and Asifa’s rape and killing were the means to an end — create fear among the Muslim nomadic Bakarwal community and force them to leave. Raping and brutally killing an innocent couldn’t belong to any community or any religion. Asifa, who barely would have known how to tie her ponytail by her own, would have screamed louder, begged for mercy and cried till her last breathe. Her voice would have echoed and lost forever in the land, we call as crown of India i.e. Kashmir.
I once visited the villages of Kashmir and I met some Muslim families and Hindu groups too. I must say, people there, are innocent and far better than the ‘complicated’ us. I named Kashmir as ‘Land of Fairies’ in one of my blog posts ‘A Crowned Continent’. Now I must say, Asifa took away every right of glorification with her and left behind a food for thought, for the whole nation.
“There were scars on her cheeks,” Rafeeza Bano, Asifa’s 55-year-old mother told while failing to control her tears and pain that can melt anyone’s heart. When she has been asked to express herself after seeing Asifa’s life less body, she wiped her eyes and further added, “Her lips had turned black and her eyes had bulged out. It was a scary scene for a mother to see,” she said. “She was my youngest child. It was horrific. She had faced a lot of barbarity.”
The mother now fears for her two surviving daughters, one of them aged 13. “They did this with an eight-year-old girl, imagine what they can do with a 13-year-old,” she said.
Akhtar is Asifa’s biological father as the girl was raised by her maternal uncle, Mohammad Yusuf, who adopted her when she was a toddler after he lost his three children in an accident. “They said if our men are given the death sentence, we will kill you one by one. After Asifa’s body was found, Hindu people came to us and threatened us,” he said.
I get goosebumps when I realise there are people who praise and protect rape of a toddler in the name of communal riots. According to police, the man grabbed her by the neck and forced her to take sleeping pills. With the help of a friend, they say, he dragged her to a nearby temple and locked her inside. For the next three days, police say, the two men and at least one other raped her, again and again. In the end, she was strangled, after one of the men allegedly insisted on raping her one last time.
Days later, Asifa’s crumpled body was found in the forest, in the same purple dress, now smeared with blood. Eight men have been arrested in connection with the case, and several have confessed, according to police in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, where the killing took place. Two of the accused are police officers(that’s another biggest shame to the constitution) said to have accepted thousands of dollars to cover up the crime. One of the arrested suspects said he was 15, though police officers, based on a medical examination, believe he is at least 19.
Now I must tell, Asifa’s painful begging and her murdered innocence would be lost as this is what history says. Hindu nationalists have turned it into a rallying cry — not calling for justice for Asifa, but rushing to the ‘Defence of the accused’. All of the men arrested are Hindu, and Asifa’s nomadic people, the Bakarwal, are Muslim. Some of the police officers who investigated the case are also Muslim, and for that reason, the Hindu activists say, they cannot be trusted. This week, a mob of Hindu lawyers physically blocked police officers from entering a courthouse to file charges against the men. The officers retreated to a judge’s house later in the evening to complete the paperwork.
Protests and counter-protests are now spreading. On Wednesday, much of Kathua, a small town in Kashmir near where Asifa was killed, was shut down by demonstrators, including dozens of Hindu women who helped block a highway and organise a hunger strike. “They are against our religion,” said Bimla Devi, one of the protesters. If the accused men aren’t released, she said, “We will burn ourselves.” C’mon! You’re a woman. How on earth you can stand by them, who satisfied their sexual urges with a 8 years old innocent kid, in the name of religion!
Police officials say they have physical evidence and DNA tests linking the defendants to Asifa’s death. They also say they have interviewed more than 130 witnesses, who “unequivocally corroborated the facts that emerged.”
I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to ask questions to be asked to the ruling political parties or the oppositions. There is no need of another candle light march or protest for justice. I and the whole nation want the culprits to be hanged till death as soon as possible and put an end to the ‘begging for justice’ trail.
I accept that India stands on the history of violence on women in the name of Honour-Killing, Dalit, Religion, Up-bringing, Wardrobe, Life-style and Marital-act. I also accept that we dealt to give justice and at times we fail. There are an infinite number of innocent voices has been lost and suppressed under the tag-lines like ‘Political affaire’, ‘Communal Riot’, ‘Lack of morality in women’ and ‘consent issues’. Lets not raise any of these excuses now for Asifa. Let’s rise all together and give an honourable farewell to her. This would be justice for all of those mothers, daughters, sisters and helpless wives who killed their voices or themselves under the threat of not getting justice. I am sure, if Asifa would have been alive by now, several voices would have been raised pointing towards her character, dress or even consent. Let’s stop here. This is not ‘RAPISTAN’ for some in-humans who are holding rights to survive. I sincerely hope, pray and wait for that moment when I would proudly call myself as ‘INDIAN’.
We are SORRY. We MISS you Asifa!