The Kathua rape and murder case had shaken the country to its core; allegations were levied on all the parties involved in the case. The people of the country, after initially supporting the movement to demand justice for the minor victim and her family members, had grown disillusioned after more developments began to emerge. The custodial torture committed by the Jammu and Kashmir police in order to get more witnesses in the case had led to migration of many Hindu families from the Kathua region. These reports were constantly denied by the Mehbooba Mufti led Jammu and Kashmir government and the police teams. The demands for CBI enquiry which had constantly been voiced by the families of the accused went unheard by the PDP government. The rallies taken out to demand for CBI enquiry were termed as pro-accused rallies and were used to blame the BJP ministers. The harassment faced by the families in Kathua at the hands of the Kashmir Police investigation team went unreported by most of the media houses. The reasons behind the demands for a CBI enquiry and claims of torture at the hands of the SIT have now come out in the open.
Three witnesses in the Kathua rape case have filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court. The writ petition filed alleges torture committed by the Jammu & Kashmir Police officials while recording statements from the three witnesses. The writ petition was brought before Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today by Advocates Ravi Sharma and Laksh Khanna. The matter has been put on the list of Wednesday by the CJI Dipak Mishra. The three petitioners are all classmates of Sanji Ram’s son, Vishal Jangotra. According to the petitioners, the Jammu & Kashmir police officials had subjected them to physical & mental torture for a 12 day period between March 19, 2018 and March 31, 2018. The physical and mental torture was committed on them and they were “coerced to make statements contrary to the facts that Vishal Jangotra was with them at Miranpur, Muzzafar Nagar, Uttar Pradesh from January 7, 2018 to February 10, 2018.”
The petitioners were subjected to abuse, humiliation and merciless beatings in order to force them to admit that Vishal Jangotra was not in Meerut when the incidents took place. The petitioners’ contention that they were being coerced to give out false statements by officials from the Jammu and Kashmir Police rings alarm bells as the same team had faced such accusations by the local residents of Kathua village as well. Local Hindu families from Kathua had alleged torture and humiliation by the investigating teams.
Despite the physical and mental torture they were subjected to by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the petitioners gave true statements before the Magistrate in Jammu under section 164A of the J&K Criminal Procedure Code. The petitioners have also alleged that even after their statements were recorded they were still being harassed by multiple summons. The petition clarifies that the petitioners are willing to co-operate with the investigation team but are worried about their security. They have decided to move the Supreme Court in order to assure themselves of their safety under the witness protection provision. The petition also includes the demand for video recording to be done for any further recording of statements by the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
This writ petition filed by the Supreme Court makes it clear that the investigation team of Jammu and Kashmir police has indulged in shady practices to suit their version of events. More such accusations will be levied on the police officials as the hearings progress. The biased Mehbooba Mufti led PDP government has neglected and humiliated the minority Hindu population of the state for too long. Not transferring the case to CBI hints at shady practices of the Mufti-police nexus. The witnesses have been facing torture for too long and an immediate transfer of the case to the CBI should be done in order to efficiently handle the case and bring it to a swift disposal. Justice for the girl child and her family must be assured but not at the cost of injustices committed on others. The Kathua case must not be reduced to politics and anti-Hindu propaganda.