After the world took notice of this case, Modi-loving media has come out all of a sudden to cover it so as to protect their credibility. I think there is also a bigger political conspiracy behind it because this is the same media which remained silent for three months when we were protesting on streets almost every day: Lawyer Talib Hussain
On January 17, 2018, an eight-year-old Bakerwal girl was found dead in Rasana village of Kathua district in Jammu region. She was starved, sedated, raped, gang-raped, choked to death with her scarf and her head crushed with a stone before being thrown in a jungle, in the woods where once she used to graze her ponies.
In protests that have erupted against the murder, Talib Hussain has been at the forefront. Talib, 27, left his law practice in Delhi to return home to Mansar, 62 km from Jammu, and work for securing the rights of the nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwal communities.
On January 21, Talib was arrested by the police while leading a protest rally in Kathua town against the local authorities for failing to arrest the girl’s murderers and allegedly hushing up the case. He was only released the next day after outrage in the Assembly. Since then he has been at the forefront to secure justice for the victim.
In an interview, Talib spoke with Raqib Hameed Naik about the sudden interest of mainstream media in the case, dangers to the Muslim community in the region, and about his expectations of justice for this case. Excerpts:
The Kathua rape incident happened close to three months ago. Why do you think did the Indian mainstream media ignored it for so long?
After the world took notice of this case, Modi-loving media has come out all of a sudden to cover it so as to protect their credibility. I think there is also a bigger political conspiracy behind it because this is the same media which remained silent for three months when we were protesting on streets almost every day. They will cover it for some days and later when things cool down they will disappear. It is very suspicious as well.
Do you think that the issue of this case is an indicator of far bigger dangers to the Muslim community in the region?
This all is being done to polarise the state for the upcoming assembly elections because they have failed on their promises. They have divided the opinion of the people on the basis of religion. It is all a vote bank politics which every party is playing in the state either it is BJP, Congress or Jammu Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP). Half of the leaders of Hindu Ekta Manch were from Congress. The case is being presented as a Hindu-Muslim story by the BJP so that at the national level, it is made to look like the Hindus in Jammu are in danger and the BJP needs to be brought back to the power to save them. The BJP in Jammu has been promoting a propaganda against the Gujjar-Bakerwal community in the region that they are anti-Hindu, land grabbers, forest encroachers. They wanted to do their job and they have done it by polarising the state and the country. This case was used as a spark to ignite riots in J&K and they will make that happen before the elections.
The protests by lawyers in support of the accused have come as a shock to many Indians, but as someone who is familiar with the issue, does it surprise you? Is it not true that anti-Muslim feelings have been promoted for the past many years now in the region?
They have brought us the shame. I am not very surprised by their protest. The lawyers outside Jammu have always been playing the communal game set by the Sangh, but the Jammu lawyers have also joined them. How communal the Jammu Bar has become can be proved by the fact that when they were asked to support the protest call by the Bar president, Doda setting aside the ideologies, against the imposition of PSA against Advocate Hassan Babur Nehru in 2016 who spoke against the Kashmir killings, they had declined their support probably because he was a Muslim. But when a Jammu lawyer was beaten in Gandhi Nagar, all the bars across Jammu division had protested.
What are your expectations for this case? Do you believe that justice for the victim girl is possible in a state like Jammu and Kashmir?
I am not optimistic that she will get justice in the backdrop of communal politics being played at the state and national level. This is the first incident which has received global attention despite the fact there are numerous such cases that await justice both in Kashmir and Jammu. This vote bank politics being played by all the political parties should stop immediately. I personally feel that when Hindu and Muslim from Jammu will come together and raise their voice in unison against the culprits and those who tried to communalize the issue that will count as justice to her.