Tasneem Kabir Stop
In a country now internationally reputed as the capital of rape and eve-teasing, there are very few cases of said crimes that can collectively shake the nation’s conscience. One such case that grappled the nation in entirety and enraged the masses was the Kathua Rape Case in January this year.
It encompassed the abduction,sedation, rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl, AsifaBano, in Rasana village of J&K, reports later revealing that she had been raped multiple times by different men, and that she had been strangled to death, as well as hit in the head with a heavy stone.
Such are the horrid elements that bring our moral sensitivity back, as well as that of the leaders of the nation. Anything less heinous, and the country doesn’t care. That aside, the limelight finds itself focussed on this case again, but this time with another tale to tell.
Under the constitution, every citizen of India has the right to legal representation, but Asifa, even as her soul has departed, has raised the much-ignoredissue of a victim’s earnest right to representation in trial.
Early on after the case was reported, one Ma’am Deepika Rajawat was seen protesting and sloganeering for Asifa’s right, even if posthumous, to justice. She became the counsel for the bereaved family, and true to the Indian spirit, she started receiving consistent death threats shortly after.
Then, in May this year, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Pathankot after the girl’s father moved the apex court, expressing fears over the safety of the family and Rajawat.The role of Rajawat and a battery of lawyers was to assist the family as and when needed.
Yet, it has come to surface that the lone thing Rajawat contributed towards the proceedings is that in February, she, on behalf of the victim’s family, filed a writ petition in the J&K High Court, requesting it to monitor the investigation.
That was the only time she actually represented the case! Where has the fiery zeal with which she spearheaded the cause initially warped away? Perhaps scattered to the four winds amidst rising self-interest. Or looted away by a Gabbar Singh of mental resolve. Who knows?
This month, the father of Asifa has moved an application in the Pathankot Court, expressing lack of confidence in the lawyer in question.
According him, Rajawat has only attended court on two occasions despite day-to-day proceedings in the case! Notwithstanding the three cheers the family deserves for believing, even this late into the crime investigation, that every moment is a good moment to steer the legal proceedings in the right direction, we are brought face to face with a rather neglected pest that plagues the fabric of our societies: social advocacy and activism of misdirected intent.
Yet, when the father decided to act, the fortress of social acclaim and admiration that Ma’am has woven around herself is seen crumbling to rubble, and rightly so! In a country that ranks amongst the lowest in various Human Development Indices, there is a pressing and ever-escalating need for pristine, correctly directed service and activism, sans ulterior motives.And unfortunately for those seeking a piece of the stardom-pie via this channel, it is the only way to do it!
In conclusion, we must stop and reflect on how even seemingly noble deeds can catapult into instruments of fame or, for Ma’m Rajawat in this case, infamy for individuals with motives that eventually emanate from their personally-vested interests.
I would like to end with the appeal that those of us who intend on undertaking the splendid and praiseworthy task of social advocacy, must do so with the valiant heart of a lion, for the path isn’t easy, with sometimes our lives as activists being put on the pedestal! For those of us who can’t handle the pressure or just can’t put in the consistent effort, let’snot plunge into waters too deep for us and save the waves for those with a heart of gold.