Srinagar: For once, the people of Kashmir and pro-India politicians in Kashmir are speaking in the same voice: demanding that the rapists and murderers of the 8-year-old Gujjar girl in Kathua be hanged.
For the past several days, people from all sections of society – students, businessmen, lawyers, doctors, journalists and social activists – have been holding demonstrations, while students are clashing with government forces on streets, to demand death penalty to the men accused of the crime by the police.
Mehrajuddin, a researcher at the University of Kashmir, while talking to Kashmir Reader on Thursday said, “Every law since antiquity to the Enlightenment (era) has rigorously asserted that death penalty is the due punishment to a rapist, taking the sanctity of the human body into consideration.”
He added, “The death penalty is the least possible redemption to such heinous crimes.”
A female student, Irfana Wani, said that she favours capital punishment for rapists, in particular for the rapists of the Kathua minor girl. “Yes, the rapists should be hanged. Giving death penalty to the guilty shows that the justice system values the dignity of rape victims,” she said.
Muhammad Tahir, a PhD scholar, said that the Kathua rape and murder case falls in the category of rarest of rare cases, thus capital punishment is perfect. “Some may argue that death sentence is not going to stop the crime, but then how is life sentence any better or worse?” he said.
Chairperson of the State Commission for Women and PDP leader Nayeema Mehjoor also called for capital punishment to the rapists of the Kathua girl. “We have already put in our demand that the rapists involved in the Kathua case should be hanged,” Mehjoor told Kashmir Reader.
Several students who have participated in protests said that those who think they have the authority to take the life of another human being and commit such horrible acts should not be allowed to live. “This evil act cannot be justified or taken lightly and should be punished with the highest penalty,” they said.
Legislator in the state assembly, Er Rasheed, said that the Kathua rapists should not be let free with any punishment less than death. “The severest punishment is hanging till death. These are social crimes and an evil for all, irrespective of religions and regions,” Rasheed said.
Chairperson of Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies (KSCDS), Prof Hameeda Nayeem, said that a deterrent has to be set for such criminals. “The justice system shows more sympathy for criminals than it does for victims. It’s time we put the emphasis of our criminal justice system back on protecting the victim rather than the accused,” she said.
She said that while capital punishment for other crimes is debatable, it should be unanimously accepted in the cases of rape of minors. “There shouldn’t be any liberal, humanistic approach towards such criminals who perpetrated the heinous crime of raping and murdering a minor in Kathua,” she said.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti last week said that her government would introduce a law to ensure death penalty for those raping minors. The main opposition party, the National Conference, said they will support such a law.
National Conference provincial president and MLA Devender Singh Rana last week said that he will move a Private Member’s Bill in the Legislative Assembly for death sentence to those committing rape of minors.
“Rape on a girl child is the most inhuman act,” Rana said.
National Conference general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar told Kashmir Reader that the party has an absolutely transparent stand on the Kathua case. “We want the rapists in the Kathua case to be hanged,” he said.
He said that his party will ensure justice for the eight-year-old girl. “We stand committed not just to ensure justice for the minor girl but also to seek exemplary punishment for those responsible for a crime whose brutal savagery has shamed humanity,” he said.