The brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua has sent shivers down the spine of the nation.
While the incident took place in January, chilling details of the crime emerged recently after the Jammu and Kashmir Police's Crime branch filed the chargesheet against the eight accused. What makes this case even more dreadful is that some of the accused are police personnel.
The 18-page chargesheet states that Sanji Ram, a retired revenue official, masterminded the plan to kidnap, rape and kill the girl in order to "dislodge" some Bakherwal Muslim nomads from Rasana village in Kathua near Jammu, The Indian Express reported.
The other accused include Sanji Ram's son Vishal Jangotra, his nephew, who is said to be a juvenile, Special Police Officers (SPOs) Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar and Parvesh Kumar, a resident of Rasana. Assistant Sub Inspector Anand Dutta and Head Constable Tilak Raj have been charged with attempting to destroy evidence.
Two BJP ministers, Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chandar Prakash Ganga, also came under the spotlight for defending the accused in the case.
Protests are being carried out in several parts of the country as well as on social media, with people condemning the barbaric crime and calling for justice for Asifa.
"The little girl kidnapped, taken to a temple and raped by religious fanatics; peopleās representatives taking to the streets to defend the accused - the country, remembering these āgood daysā hangs its head in shame in front of the world," Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said.
"The rape and murder of the little girl is not the only issue. The reasons that led to this is what is crucial. The issue shows the dangerous situation that the country faces under the rule of the Sangh Parivar. Those who use even temples for such atrocities and the Sangh Parivar forces which supports this is dragging India to the black days of bestiality.ā
Actor Kamal Haasan took to Twitter to express his anguish. " Does it have 2 b ur own daughter fr u 2 understand? She couldāve been mine. I feel angry as a man, father & a citizen fr failing Asifa. I m sorry my child v didnāt make this country safe enough fr U. Iāll fight fr justice at least fr future kids like u. V mourn u & wonāt forget u," he tweeted.
Does it have 2 b ur own daughter fr u 2 understand? She couldāve been mine. I feel angry as a man, father & a citizen fr failing Asifa. I m sorry my child v didnāt make this country safe enough fr U. Iāll fight fr justice at least fr future kids like u. V mourn u & wonāt forget uā Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) April 13, 2018
I am Hindustan. I am Ashamed. #JusticeForOurChild #JusticeForAasifaā Parvathy T K (@parvatweets) April 13, 2018
8 years old. Gangraped. Murdered.
In āDeviā-sthaan temple. #Kathua and lest we forget #unnao Shame on us! #BreakTheSilence #EndTheComplicity #ActNow pic.twitter.com/MoZXiubDXy
How many more children like baby Asifa will be sacrificed at the intersect of religion & politics? How many more children will have to suffer unimaginable crimes before we wake up? Iām disgusted. Itās time for swift action. We owe it to Asifa and to humanity. #justiceforAsifa.ā PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) April 12, 2018
I stood vociferously for striking down #TripleTalaq- but its quite odd to see that politicians so vocal about delivering the rights of Muslim Women have fallen completely silent on the rights of #Asifa #JusticeForAsifaā barkha dutt (@BDUTT) April 13, 2018
The cruelest form of evil is harming an innocent child. What is happening to the world we live in??? These people should be given the most severe punishment there is! Where are we heading as humanity?ā Anushka Sharma (@AnushkaSharma) April 12, 2018
Shaken to my core.#JusticeforAsifa
Every child deserves to be protected, to learn, to play, to be loved and nurtured. They are the future! A crime against a child is a crime against the people. #JusticeforAsifaā Manushi Chhillar (@ManushiChhillar) April 13, 2018
Today, I join the lakhs of fellow Indians in expressing my grief over the gruesome death of young Aasifa. Though it can never be a consolation, I urge the authorities to bring those guilty to book at the earliest. #justiceforaasifaā M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) April 12, 2018
This face will stay with me forever. Asifa, weāve failed you - as fellow human beings & as a nation. Weāve also failed you as women because we breed monsters in the garb of boys and men. India, WAKE UP or a day will come when youāll just be left with boys & men. #JusticeforAsifa pic.twitter.com/DlEiiBArh8ā Aarti Singh Dabas (@asd2301) April 13, 2018
While photographs of Asifa had been doing the rounds for a while, several social media users have now been sharing the photographs of the accused urging people to put the focus on perpetrators and not just victims.
Facebook user Rakhshin Patel wrote, "We talk about women being raped. Not men raping women. We share pictures of the victim, as we did with the little 8 year old, not the perpetrator. Hereās what you should do instead. Share this picture of the SPO, Deepak Khajuria, who raped this child. Name and shame him. Angry. Horrified."
We talk about women being raped. Not men raping women. We share pictures of the victim, as we did with the little 8 year...Posted by Rakhshin Patel on Thursday, 12 April 2018
This is the man accused of satiating his lust one last time before 8 year old Asiya was brutally strangulated. The minor's head was then hit with a stone to ensure life was snuffed out of her. #JusticeForAsifaPosted by Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy on Thursday, 12 April 2018
Here are the pics of 3 Main accused in Asifa Rape-Murder Case.ā Keerthi (@TheDesiEdge) April 13, 2018
1. Deepak Khajuria - SPO
2. Sanji Ram (60) Is the main caretaker of the Devasthan and main conspirator in the crime.
3. Tilak Raj - Head Constable.
Shame the Rapists, not the victim. Share it #JusticeForAsifa pic.twitter.com/ib5ZsjYX2A
I am not tweeting Asifa's picture. Her face haunts me. I tweet the picture of this beast who took an oath to protect the people of J&K. This is the beast who quenched his lust before killing Asifa. This picture has to be seen by everyone, not Asifa's#JusticeforAsifa pic.twitter.com/XPZBARamJAā Mehreen (@MehreenAlam_) April 13, 2018
Many have also questioned the Prime Minister and his silence on the issue.
In a Facebook post, former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy said this was one of the worst incidents that the country had witnessed. Instead of writing slogans of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padao', "you should first correct your supporters who have done this ghastly crime to turn into a human being".
"The news of this incident surfaced when you were on fast and by now several hours have passed and you continue to be silent. This is the biggest challenge to our country. It's not when you wish your friends and others in the US or Europe happy birthday but when you join the suffering and pain of your own people that you become a leader with a big heart," said Chandy.
On January 10, the girl was abducted by the juvenile and Parvesh Kumar when she had gone to the nearby forests to graze horses. The juvenile raped her there and then the duo took her to the devasthan or prayer hall of a temple where she was kept in confinement, raped multiple times by the men and later killed.
On January 11, the juvenile called Vishal Jangotra, who was in Meerut at the time, asking him to return "if he wanted to satisfy his lust".
According to the chargesheet, before killing the victim on January 14, "Khajuria told the juvenile to wait as he wanted to rape the girl before she is killed." Later, Khajuria and the juvenile brutally murdered her.