'There are communal overtones in the chargesheet.'
'Hindus and Muslims live peacefully in Jammu and by highlighting such facts in the chargesheet they are committing a conspiracy against Jammu.'
On Wednesday, April 11, life in Jammu came to an abrupt halt after lawyers belonging to the Jammu high court bar association called for a bandh.
Their demand: A Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the Kathua rape-cum-murder case (see box below) and the deportation of Rohingya immigrants.
"Two BJP ministers said they will ensure this matter will be put before the CBI. Their words are not being heard. Morality says they must resign and join us. But these power-hungry people will never do that and always mislead people," B S Salathia, president, Jammu and Kashmir high court bar association, tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
Why did Jammu lawyers call for a bandh?
We have four demands. Firstly, Rohingya Muslims must be thrown out of Jammu.
There was an attack on an army camp and these Rohingya Muslims stay around that (area).
This happened for the first time in the history of Jammu that there was an incident of stone-pelting on the army.
Did the Rohingya pelt stones on an Indian Army convoy?
They are suspect.
Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, we all stay together peacefully in Jammu and there has never been a single incident of stone pelting on the Indian Army.
Therefore, the needle of suspicion is on the Rohingya Muslims.
What are your other demands?
The second demand is to withdraw an order issued by the tribal affairs ministry of Jammu and Kashmir, which states that no action can be taken against tribals unless it is approved by the tribal minister.
Encroachers have no religion. They have only one religion and that is encroachment.
Thirdly, bovine smuggling has increased.
Earlier, the police used to stop bovine vehicles, but now the J&K government has issued an order that the police will not stop and check any bovine vehicles.
By doing so, they are encouraging bovine smuggling.
Fourth, is the Hiranagar incident (the Kathua rape case) in which that girl must get justice, but the crime branch investigation is bringing in a communal divide and the facts are being ignored.
We said we need the CBI to investigate the case and we fail to understand why the government is not doing it.
Now the matter has come to court. Therefore, there was a Jammu bandh.
To the nation at large, it seems that the lawyers of Jammu are defending the rapist of an 8-year-old Muslim girl.
This is a planned conspiracy by the government of Jammu and Kashmir. We condemn this.
The J&K government is trying to project that we, the lawyers, are trying to protect rapists and are against the victim. This is not true.
We are talking of justice and we are on the road for the same reason.
An eight-year-old girl from the Bakarwal nomad community was kidnapped on January 10 from Kathua's Hiranagar area. Her body was found in a forest area on January 17, triggering protests in the Kashmir valley and parts of Jammu.
The family alleged that she was kidnapped, drugged, raped and murdered inside a temple in Kathua, apparently to drive away the community from the area.
The J&K crime branch submitted a chargesheet in court on Monday, April 9, against the seven accused in the child's rape and murder.
What are your demands in the rape case?
The government did not take any Jammu police officers to investigate this case, but called an officer from Kashmir to investigate this case.
They called an officer who was himself in prison for one year though he got acquitted later.
Now, if the J&K government wants such people to investigate the Kathua rape case and we are demanding that the CBI investigate the case, how can someone say we are wrong?
We want justice for both parties, therefore, we feel the CBI must get into this case.
Why are lawyers getting involved as this is a police and political matter?
This is not a political matter. This is a matter of justice.
Disgruntled politicians are politicising these things. The situation in Kashmir is already bad and now they are trying to disturb Jammu too.
There is a conspiracy going on to disturb Jammu.
Look at the challan (chargesheet) that has been put up.
It says that the Hindus of Jammu have done a conspiracy against the Bakharwal community (who are Muslims). And they raped that eight-year-old Muslim girl to drive them out.
This has been done to instigate a communal divide. And therefore, we are saying the CBI must investigate this case.
So are you saying the chargesheet has been filed to create communal disturbance?
No one in Jammu thinks of driving one or another community out of Jammu, and this is a clear sign that they want to divide Jammu on communal lines.
There are communal overtones in the chargesheet.
Hindus and Muslims live peacefully in Jammu and by highlighting such facts in the chargesheet they are committing a conspiracy against Jammu.
If you believe that the chargesheet has been filed to instigate communal violence, why does the Bharatiya Janata Party not withdraw support to the Peoples Democratic Party-led government?
That is sad. Two BJP ministers said they will ensure this matter will be put before the CBI. Their words are not being heard.
Morality says they must resign and join us. But these power-hungry people will never do that and always mislead people.
The protestors were heard shouting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'.
In Kashmir, when people shout 'Pakistan Zindabad', the Indian media has no problem and they never highlight this.
But in Jammu, when people assemble and say 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and 'Hindustan Zindabad', look at how the media projects us.
We are a part of India and we are taking the Indian flag and agitating. So what is wrong with that?
There is nothing wrong with saying 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', but the message going out is that you are supporting the rape accused and shouting such slogans.
No one did that. I want to clarify to the media that we are not against the rape victim.
Every man says the girl must get justice, but we do not want innocent people to be harassed.
The accused arrested are police officers. The child was raped in a temple. Is it not true, according to you? Do you have any doubts about this?
We have got evidence that they got two kids from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, and beat them up.
They were forced to give wrong statements. They recorded their wrong statements and when these kids went in front of the judge they told him that they were beaten and forced to give wrong statements by the police.
They spoke the truth in front of the judge. This shows that the crime branch's approach was not fair and therefore we want the CBI.
Why have Srinagar officers investigated this case? Why not officers from Jammu?
Did the rape take place in a temple or not, according to you?
Can any man ever rape a girl in a temple or any religious place?
This is unreasonable and lies as no one can rape a girl in a temple.
If he does so, he is not a Hindu. This crime can never happen in a temple.
This is an unnatural crime and we feel the crime branch has made up a story, which is concocted.
I feel this story was made up by these officers from Srinagar to project an image that Muslims are not safe in Jammu.