Tribune News Service
Rasana (Hiranagar), April 13
An eerie silence, which gripped Rasana village after its residents deserted homes out of fear of “excessive harassment” by the Crime Branch, has been broken as groups of journalists and mediapersons have started flooding the village to cover the infamous Kathua rape and murder case.
Villagers, including women, have virtually locked their houses and taken shelter under the shade of a banyan tree at Kootah Morh on the Jammu-Pathankot highway even as mediapersons and journalists from different parts of the country are heading for the village. The victim’s family has already shifted to the upper reaches as part of seasonal migration.
The villagers, who visit their houses in the morning hours, return to Kootah Morh where women have been sitting on the fast-unto-death for the past 14 days, seeking a “fair and impartial” CBI investigation into the case. So far, eight women have been hospitalised after their health deteriorated.
There are 14 Hindu families in the village. While three families have members in government jobs, the members of the remaining families are mostly labourers who work as coolies in Mumbai. Keeping in view the safety of their families, they returned to the village and have now taken shelter at Kootah Morh. Ahead of the harvesting season, their crops have been damaged by stray cattle.
The villagers believed they had fallen victim to a “big conspiracy” hatched by Kashmir-based groups, with “unflinching support” of the government, to divide the people on communal lines and “terrorise” a particular community in the name of investigation. A few policemen have also been deployed in the village “to keep a check on the movement of people and outsiders.”
Former village sarpanch Kant Kumar said, “The chargesheet filed by the Crime Branch has firmed our belief that the incident was a part of bigger conspiracy which needs to be exposed. The role of the national media remained negative and they did not listen to our pleas. We, too, want justice for the victim and her family and nobody has second thought on it. The village is now flooded with mediapersons, who earlier did not bother to visit the village and hear us.”
Darshana Devi, who is on the fast-unto-death, said, “There is not even a single person in the village who is not in favour of justice to the victim and her family. We, too, have daughters and we understand the pain of the family but this does not mean that they (Crime Branch) can harass our children and men. A sin has already been committed (referring to the murder of the minor girl) in the village and the government is bent on committing another sin by torturing our children.”
Sham Lal, a local youth, alleged, “The Crime Branch has crossed all limits of harassment in the case. Everyone is in favour of justice to the victim and her family but this investigation has more than what meets the eye. It seems Kashmiri politicians and their mentors have managed to succeed in their designs by creating a divide among Dogra Gujjars, Bakerwals and Hindus. We have never seen such situation in the past.”
The villagers have also rejected the charges that the victim was held in captivity at a ‘devsthan’ (religious place) before she was raped and murdered, saying “The lock at the devsthan had three keys with the people of three villages who used to open it regularly. This is a concocted story to create a communal divide in the region.”
A senior police officer, who wished not to be named, said, “the Crime Branch officials treated them (local policemen) like criminals, while the people from a particular community are being patronised. It is being done to create pressure on the local police not to touch this community even if they resort to any criminal activity.”
Villagers desert homes
- Groups of journalists and mediapersons have started flooding Rasana village to cover the infamous rape and murder case
- Villagers, including women, have virtually locked their houses and taken shelter under the shade of a banyan tree at Kootah Morh on the Jammu-Pathankot highway due to fear of "harassment"
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