Kashmir civil society holds joint protest, demands transfer of Asifa case to Kashmir

‘Prosecution witnesses under threat, not safe after lawyers in Kathua prevented police from filling Challan’

MUDASIR YAQOOB
Srinagar, Publish Date: Apr 11 2018 12:47AM | Updated Date: Apr 11 2018 12:47AM
Kashmir civil society holds joint protest, demands transfer of Asifa case to KashmirPhoto: Mubashir Khan/GK

A day after lawyers in Kathua prevented the Crime Branch from filing a charge sheet against the accused in the horrific rape and murder of the eight-year-old Asifa in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Kathua, civil society members including doctors, engineers, lawyers and students on Tuesday held a protest demonstration at press enclave and demanded transfer of the case to Srinagar.

People from various sections of the society assembled under the banner of ‘justice for Asifa solidarity forum’ and raised pro-justice slogans. They were carrying placards that read “Justice for Asifa”, “Don’t protect rapist, murderer”, “We stand by victim family”, and “will not tolerate sabotage of justice.”

 “People with vested interests in Jammu are communalizing the horrific crime,” said Dr Masood Rashid, also a senior member of doctors association Kashmir.

“The horrific rape and murder case of eight year old girl is a shame and a crime against society. Everyone should come forward to condemn this offence. However, from day one we have seen some people in Jammu are communalizing the crime,” said Rashid, adding that protest of lawyers in Kathua in favour of the accused is a condemnable act. Rashid hailed the efforts of Crime Branch for carrying out an impartial investigation in the case. “There is no need to handover the case to CBI,” he said.

“We have never seen a group of people supporting a rapist and murderer. The pro-accused protests are a direct interference in the impartial investigation,” said Dr Sajad Qanungo, senior vice president of doctors association Kashmir.

On Monday, lawyers in Khathua staged a protest when a team of Crime Branch arrived to produce Challan against seven out of eight accused in Asifa rape and murder case in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Kathua. The lawyers resorted to sloganeering against the investigating agency.

“How can a common person who is named as prosecution witness in charge sheet be safe when he has to appear before court for recording his statement? The series of events including forcing investigation team to leave court premises is an open threat to prosecution witnesses,” said Rayees Rasool, a social activist.

“The case should be transferred to Srinagar so that the prosecution witness can dispose their statements before the court without any fear or threat. The transfer of case to Srinagar will ensure free and fair trial in the case,” said Rasool, adding that it has also come to the fore that the heinous crime was committed “to change the demography of the area.”

On 16 February 2018, right-wing group Ekta Munch in Jammu had rallied in favour of the rape and murderer accused of Asifa Bano. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had later expressed “shock” over the support to the accused.

Meanwhile a group of Srinagar based lawyers also held a separate protest demanding stringent punishment for the rape accused. Holding demonstration outside the State High Court Srinagar, the lawyers condemned the action of their counterparts in Kathua, stating that “only God can save the state when upholders of law resort to hooliganism in order to protect rapists and murderers.”

 

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