Kathua victims legal counsel honoured in Canada

Written by Gurpreet Singh | Published on: June 26, 2018

Deepika Singh Rajawat is the legal counsel of Asifa Bano’s family. Asifa was an eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl who was abducted by Hindu extremists in January as part of a conspiracy to create fear in the minds of Muslims and force them to flee Kathua region.

 
Deepika Singh
 
Canada: Deepika Singh Rajawat – who is leading the fight for justice For Asifa’s family was honoured at a community event in Surrey, Canada on Sunday.
 
Rajawat is the legal counsel of Asifa Bano’s family. She was an eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl who was abducted by Hindu extremists in January as part of a conspiracy to create fear in the minds of Muslims and force them to flee Kathua region. Her body was later found in a forest. The forensic evidence and police investigation established that she was held captive for several days inside a temple, sedated and raped before being murdered. 
 
The arrests of the suspects, including a Special Police Officer, sparked angry protests from those owing allegiance to the ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party. They wanted those arrested to be released. So much so, they hoisted the Indian national flag during the march taken out in support of the alleged perpetrators.

kathua lawyer
 
Rajawat has been facing threats on social media for standing up for Asifa – whose brutal rape and murder had caused worldwide outrage. There have been angry protests in Canada too. She also faced hostility from many male lawyers, including those defending the accused.
 
She was here to attend an annual community fair organized by Tiranjan – a progressive group of women which has been active in the South Asian community for many years. Amy Ghuman Sara who has been instrumental behind Tiranjan is known for raising awareness for gender equality. 
 
Rajawat told this writer that she has been subjected to character assassination and is distraught by an attempt to communalize the issue in the name of Hindu nationalism. She insisted that she is also a proud Hindu, but her brand of Hinduism teaches discipline and compassion, whereas those who are supporting the accused have been using abusive language against her on social media.
 
“All I am fighting against is the crime committed against a poor girl, not against any community.”
 
She asserted that she believes in the Indian constitution that is based on the principles of secularism and therefore cannot hold on to her religion when it comes to her duty. She added that nationalism does not demand that people who indulge in such heinous crimes should be supported. “What happened to a Muslim girl today can happen to a Hindu woman tomorrow.”
 
Rajawat hopes that the justice will prevail even though the prosecution is under a lot of pressure. Thanks to the efforts of the civil society, the trial of this highly sensitive case has been transferred outside Kashmir to ensure neutrality. The trial is in progress in the neighbouring state of Punjab.
 
Rajawat says that the fight is not over yet as the matter has been completely politicized under a highly polarized environment. She demanded that the Indians abroad must break their silence over ongoing atrocities under a right-wing government in India. “When people remain silent bad things grow.” 

Another lawyer, Talib Hussain, from the Gujjar Bakarwal community from which Asifa hailed, has also been battling the issue in the courts. CJP did an exclusive interview with both in April 2018.

Photo Credit: Supreem Singh

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