The case concerning the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir should be heard outside the State, Ms. Deepika Singh Rajawat, the Counsel appearing before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on behalf of the victim's family told Indian Express.
She has, in fact, alleged that she was being discouraged by members of the Jammu Bar Association from appearing on behalf of the victim's family. She was quoted as saying,
"I was at the court when Jammu Bar Association president B.S. Salathia passed by and said that I should not appear. I told him that I was not a member of the bar. But he told me that if 'you will appear, we know how to stop you'."
She then approached the Chief Justice of the High Court and requested security. Following her complaint, the Chief Justice directed the security wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police to ensure that she remains safe in the High Court.
Expressing similar fears, she told ANI, "I don't know till when I will be alive. I can be raped, my modesty can be outraged, I can be killed, I can be damaged. I was threatened yesterday that 'we will not forgive you'. I am going to tell SC tomorrow that I am in danger."
The eight-year-old girl belonging to Bakarwal-Gujjar community was abducted, raped and murdered in Rassana village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district in January this year. Her body was recovered from Rassana forest in Kathua on 17 January, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.
The available evidence suggests that she was brutally gang-raped before being murdered. According to a report in The Print, a post-mortem report indicated damage to the girl's uterus and death due to asphyxiation.
According to another report, Sanji Ram, a retired official of the revenue department is believed to have masterminded the heinous crime as a part of a broader conspiracy to create fear among the nomad 'Bakarwal' (goatherd) community in the village, so that they could be pushed out. Sanji Ram is, in fact, the custodian of the temple where the girl was allegedly held in captivity.
The Police has, so far, arrested nine accused, including Ram and his son, a police head constable, two special police officers (SPOs) and a sub-inspector of police.
To make matters worse, lawyers from the Kathua Bar Association had last week prevented members of the state police from filing a chargesheet in the matter in front of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. The lawyers allegedly "took pride" in mobilizing to prevent the police team from presenting the accused before the magistrate, even physically blocking their way. On the same day, the President of the Kathua Bar Association passed a resolution to keep work under suspension until April 12, while also calling for and supporting a complete Kathua and J&K bandh on April 11.
The Supreme Court had then, on Friday, taken suo motu cognizance of the matter, issuing notices to the Kathua Bar Association and Jammu Bar Association. It had then observed that "obstruction of delivery of justice and process of law, and that too by lawyers cannot be condoned."
Thereafter, the Bar Council of India (BCI) also formed a Committee to enquire into the matter. As per a press release issued on Sunday, the Committee will be headed by former Chief Justice of the High Court, Justice Tarun Agarwal, and will include BCI Co-Chairmen Mr. S. Prabakaran and Mr. Rameshchandra G. Shah, former Chairman of Bar Council of Uttarakhand Ms. Razia Beig, and Patna High Court Advocate, Mr. Naresh Dixit.
The Council has further directed the Bar Associations of High Court of Jammu, Kathua Bar Association and all other Bar Association of State of Jammu to call off the strike, and resume court work from Monday. These Bar Associations have been directed to convene emergent meetings on Monday and take a decision to put an end to the strike.