Kathua rape case: Jammu Bar not favouring rapists, say women lawyers, claim victim’s family flagged unfair probe

After lawyer Deepika Singh Rajwat — who is fighting the case of an eight-year-old girl from Kathua who was raped and murdered — accused the Jammu High Court Bar Association president of threatening her, the Jammu Bar on Sunday sent a team of women lawyers to defend its president Bopinder Singh Salathia. The Bar had come under criticism for calling a strike against the Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and demanding a CBI probe into the incident.controversy Kathua rape case

Surinder Kaur, a senior advocate at Jammu High Court, told online media on Sunday that the reason all women lawyers had to come out in the public, was because television channels were calling them “lawyers who defend rapists and anti-nationals”.

“We are not favouring rapists, we demand justice for the victims. The dispensation of justice should not become a political football,” said Kaur, adding, “There was a writ petition filed by the victim’s family that said that the police had not launched a proper inquiry into the case.”

A group of women lawyers had held a press conference in Jammu on Sunday, demanding justice in the case and claiming that the Bar was only asking for the case to be transferred to the CBI for a fair investigation.

They added that since the beginning of this case the Bar has the position that culprits involved in the rape and murder should not be spared. They said an impression was being created that the Bar was for rapists, which is a blatant lie and concocted.

The minor was abducted, raped and murdered in Rasana village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district in January. The body of the girl, from the Bakarwal community, was recovered from Rassana forest in Kathua on 17 January, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.

Last week, the Jammu and Kashmir Police filed an FIR against lawyers for obstructing the Crime Branch from filing charge sheet in the case of rape and murder of the nomad girl. The lawyers had blocked court when Crime Branch officials had visited the court to file a charge sheet against the accused in the case on Monday.

Then they called for a strike, which was supported by the Jammu Bar Association, and made several demands including that the case should be handed over to the CBI. The eight-year-old girl’s rape and murder has had Jammu and Kashmir on edge since last month.

The women lawyers of the Jammu Bar also dismissed the allegation that Deepika Rajawat, counsel for the Kathua victim’s family, was harassed saying that no such incident took place in the high court.

Rajawat said in New Delhi on Sunday that she felt threatened to pursue the case in Jammu and along with the family of the victim was moving to Supreme Court to transfer the case outside Jammu.

“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 the Supreme Court tomorrow that I am in danger,” Rajawat said.

“He (Bar president) wanted to stop me from appearing in the court. The president knew I was not a Bar member, and used abusive language against me. He knows the means to stop me, that was a threat to me,” Rajawat had told media last week.

The women lawyers said in Jammu that Bar president’s statement about taking up arms was in reference to the Rohingyas and it has nothing to do with the rapists. The lawyers deplored that the statement was linked with the rapists and a communal colour was given to it.

Meanwhile, the Bar Council of India has decided to send a five-member committee to Jammuto investigate the conduct of the lawyers and has asked the Bar Association of Jammu (BAJ) to call off its strike.

“If we are demanding a  CBI probe into the incident, what is wrong with it, why not? It was the victim’s family which had said they are not satisfied with the police investigation,” a spokesperson for the Bar Council of India, said.

The Bar Council of India has said if any lawyer is found guilty they have the right to cancel their license for a lifetime.

(Originally posted in Firstpost )

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