Jammu Bar calls for shutdown today
Jammu: The crime branch of JK Police on Tuesday submitted in court a separate chargesheet against the so-called “juvenile” accused of rape and murder of 8-year-old Asifa Bano of Kathua district. According to a senior crime branch officer, following a medical examination on March 7, the juvenile was found to be actually 19 years old.
On Monday, police had filed a chargesheet against seven other accused, including two policemen accused of destruction of evidence. Among the accused, the alleged “mastermind” of the crime, Sanji Ram, 60, surrendered before the crime branch on March 20 after his son, Vishal, was arrested from Uttar Pradesh.
Members of the Kathua Bar Association protested the filing of the chargesheet on Monday. They demanded a CBI probe into the case.
President of Kathua Bar Association, Kirty Bhushan Mahajan, said that lawyers have called for a Jammu Bandh on Wednesday to protest the police’s handling of the case.
The Congress and the CPI(M) strongly condemned the lawyers’ protests, while the National Conference demanded shifting the trial out of Kathua and setting up a fast-track court for the case.
J&K Congress chief GA Mir described the protests in Kathua as “politically motivated and obnoxious”.
“The act of hindering the justice process amounts to endorsement of heinous crimes. This is unfortunate and brings a bad name to their profession,” Mir said of the protesting lawyers.
CPI(M) state secretary Ghulam Nabi Malik said some vested interests were trying to derive political mileage out of a brutal and inhuman act. “It is a shameful act and against the human values on part of these lawyers and their political masters, who instead of helping the victim’s family to get justice, behaved like hooligans,” he said.
“A criminal is a criminal irrespective of his caste, colour and creed and must be dealt with according to law. By evoking emotions and giving communal colour to rape-and-murder case, fringe elements are committing a heinous crime against humanity,” he said.
National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar told reporters in Srinagar that it is unheard of in the history of the country that white-collar professionals come out in support of those accused of a heinous crime.
“It is a part of a deep-rooted and well-thought-out conspiracy to polarise and communalise the state along religious and regional lines. We will be watching the situation and thwart any such designs,” he said.
“We demand the case be shifted out of Kathua to any other place where the trial can be held without any interference,” Sagar said, adding that a fast-track court should be set up to ensure speedy justice to the victim.
Demanding strict action against those involved yesterday’s protest by lawyers, he lashed out at those who have called for a Jammu bandh tomorrow, and urged the people of Jammu to defeat the nefarious designs of fringe elements.
The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI) said it will keep away from the Jammu bandh. “There is no justification for the strike called by the Jammu High Court Bar Association,” JCCI president Rakesh Gupta said.
The Jammu Bar Association had claimed support of civil society, political parties and other bodies, including the JCCI, for its strike call.