• Asifa: A Story of Militarisation, Violence and Justice | The Polis Project, Inc

    Scholars, Writers, Artists and Citizens respond:
    Ather Zia, Anthropologist, Writer, Poet and Activist

    The murder-gang rape of a minor child Asifa from Kathua is soul crushing. It must not be seen as a social-sexual crime but one that is deeply political and tied to the larger issue of the militarization, occupation and systematic use of rape as a weapon of war in the region. This case involves a premeditated plan to strike fear in the Gujjar-Bakerwal (migratory pastoralist) community and the crime branch has proved this. Such extreme violence on a young child is incomprehensible. The charge sheet is filled with the savage acts that were meted on the body of the young child who was chosen because she was a soft target. This gang-rape murder cannot be treated as apolitical since it is proven beyond doubt that it was planned to drive out the Gujjar-Bakerwals who are a marginalized Muslim community. Their presence has been a matter of growing strife for the local Hindu community. Sanji Ram who is now proven the main mastermind has a clear track record of inciting sentiments against the Muslim community and it is reported he has even been harassing their women in the past. Sanji Ram groomed his nephew to kidnap the Asifa. In this they were aided and abetted by Deepak Khajuria an SPO in the local police force who is also the mastermind and has a track record of spewing hate against the Muslim community. It has been proven that he along with the members of police and other men (currently 8 in total) tried to cover up the case. They received clear political patronage to get the community activist Talib Hussain detained and cause impediments in the investigation. The advocate for Asifa, Deepika Singh continues to be harassed to drop the case by the Bar Association of Kathua. In an unprecedented turn of events, the Bar has mobilized in favour of the rapists and have caused impediments in filing the charge sheet against the accused. The Hindu community, under the banner of Hindu Ekta Manch, continues to protest and strike demanding the rapist-murderers be released. While showing extraordinary strength in face of immense adversity, Mohammad Yusuf Pujwala Asifa’s father along with his family has fled the area due to threats. It must be noted that the Hindu community did not allow Asifa to be buried in the area even though the family lawfully own space for burial. In 1947 Jammu region became dominantly Hindu after a large scale Muslim massacre was carefully orchestrated during the partition. While this shameful history is carefully hidden from common view, Asifa’s case brings back the horrors of a communal past, and the potential for no doubt mindless but orchestrated violence that Indian settler colonialism is capable of bringing back or rather has brought back.