Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal rape and killing of the girl belonging to the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community.
As the Bakerwals make their way to the upper reaches of Jammu and Kashmir with their belongings, she trudges along burdened by the weight of her eight-year-old daughter’s death. “She was so beautiful and intelligent. I wanted her to be a doctor when she grew up,” the biological mother of the girl reminisces. The grief-stricken mother wishes for death penalty for the guilty. “My only wish is the culprits should be hanged for the heinous crime, so that no other family has to go through it,” she says.
The girl was adopted by the woman’s brother and his wife in Rasana hamlet of Kathua district when she was one year old. Still in shock, she blames herself for leaving her daughter at brother’s house. “Why was she killed? She was grazing cattle and taking care of horses. She was eight years old. Why did they kill her in such a brutal way. They should be given death sentence,” she says. The girl’s father said she was at maternal uncle’s home in Rasana.
“The killers should be given death penalty. We do not need a CBI probe, we have faith in investigation by the Crime Branch,” he says. Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal rape and killing of the girl belonging to the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community. Her body was found in Rasana forest on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area. The couple along with their two kids and cattle left their hamlet in Samba and in Round-Domail in Udhampur district as part of their annual trek to Sanasar mountainous belt. The mother says that earlier they had good relations with Hindus and lived in harmony with them.
“But after this incident, the relations have soured and we are fearful. We only want justice for her. She was our dear child. She was beautiful and we loved her,” she says. They wanted take her back, teach her and make her a doctor, the mother said, adding that she was very intelligent. “The prime minister had said “Beti Padavo Beti Bachavo” but how are they teaching and saving girls like this,” her adoptive father asks. “The ministers are supporting the rape accused, saying that they are innocent, but they are wrong,” he says. The biological father says the world knows that their daughter, who did not know about the difference between Hindus and Muslims, was wronged and murdered in most barbaric manner.
“The world and entire India knows it. They are supporting them. I do not say she was our only child, she was everyone’s child. The incident should not be looked at through the religious lens,” he said. On January 23, the government had handed over the case to the Crime Branch of the state police which formed a special investigation team and arrested eight people including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable. The police have arrested eight people in the case, but the Bar Association has opposed the action, alleging targeting of minority Dogras.