Thursday, 17 May 2018

How India's institutions are failing Muslims


Denial is a disease :(
In January, an eight-year-old girl was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. The girl was from the Bakarwal Muslim nomadic community. The eight men accused of participating in her abduction, assault and murder, on the other hand, are Hindus. The primary accused is a retired revenue official, while one of the others is a police officer.
When the girl's body was discovered near a temple in the forest, almost a week after her disappearance, Bakarwals demanded a special inquiry. The court-monitored investigation revealed that her abduction, rape and murder were purposeful and preplanned. It indicated that the attack on the girl aimed to scare the Bakarwal community away from Kathua.
Today, many people from the Hindu community, against all evidence, seems to be convinced that this crime could not have been committed by Hindus. Instead, they allege that the child must have been killed by the Rohingya or the Bakarwals themselves. They claim the entire case is a Muslim-Kashmiri conspiracy aiming to undermine the Hindus. 

What started as a demand for a probe by a higher impartial agency has now taken a definitive anti-Muslim turn, with the local Hindu population outright denying the possibility of Hindus being involved in the crime. 
But these anti-Muslim sentiments are not only being promoted by Kathua lawyers or members of the public. India's top institutions, and even the ruling party, seem to be following a similar agenda. 
After lawyers tried to stop the investigative team from filing the charge sheet against the men accused of the murder, the photos and videos of the agitation were shared widely in the media. Following a strong public reaction to the incident, the Supreme Court instructed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to send a fact-finding team to Kathua.
In their report to the top court, the BCI said the Kathua lawyers didn't prevent the special investigative team from filing the charge sheet and blamed the media for "misreporting". In fact, the team went beyond its mandate and even said the "demand" for a CBI probe into the crime "seems to be justified".
Many members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have also openly put their support behind the accused and criticised the investigation. Two BJP ministers in the state of Jammu and Kashmir addressed a rally in support of the accused, which caused a public outcry across India and both ministers were forced to resign from their roles. 
But after that all the BJP ministers resigned from the ministry. When new members from the party joined the government, it was pointed out that at least one of them was present in the rally opposing the probe. The new deputy chief minister insensitively said that the Kathua rape and murder was a minor incident and was being unnecessarily hyped.
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