#ThugsOfKathua Exposed: Kathua Victim’s Family Dumps Deepika Rajawat as She Barely Appeared in the Court
Shehla Rashid, Talib Hussain and Deepika Rajawat
Every day, the bitter truth is tumbling out of the Kathua Rape controversy, underscoring the fact that the little girl from Kathua was just a tool for many to attain celebrity status. After Shehla Rashid got exposed for fundraising fraud and advocate Talib Hussain himself is under investigation for rape allegations, now, Deepika Rajawat has been fired by the victim's family for her non-availability during hearings in the court
-Sant Kumar Sharma
On Wednesday, November 13, Mohammed Yousaf virtually shut out celebrity lawyer Deepika Rajawat from any further association with the case. He is the father of a child who was raped and murdered in Ressana village of Kathua District.
He filed an application before the Sessions Judge at Pathankot, where the case is being heard on a day to day basis since July following a Supreme Court order. Giving reasons for urging the court to disallow Deepika from making any submissions on behalf of the victim, he said that she had appeared only two or three times in the past five months.
It is being said that the attendance record of Deepika in the Pathankot court was abysmal as it stood at 2/110. Or 3/110 hearings!
Yousaf's application led to an instant uproar against Deepika in the media and on various social media platforms.
She was accused by many of playing a devious role in the instant case, earning lots of publicity, a couple of awards, and doing very little, if anything, for the family of the victim. Some others extended their support to her, saying she had done enough for the victim's family.
Deepika herself uploaded a video on social media explaining her side of the story. She defended herself saying that she had several clients in courts of Jammu. These clients were her source of livelihood and legal practice. She pointed out that she was a pro bono lawyer for the victim's family whom she had charged nothing.
Incidentally, it needs to be pointed out that Deepika was among the lawyers who urged the Supreme Court during hearings that the case should be transferred outside J&K for trial. The Supreme Court conceded this request of the lawyers for the victim's family. The transfer of the case to Sessions Judge in Pathankot was interpreted as a sort of victory by Deepika and other lawyers.
Pathankot is perhaps the nearest court outside J&K from Kathua, and it led to the lawyers for the accused also to make trips from Jammu to Pathankot. At that level, the lawyers of the victim’s family and those of the accused were evenly placed. Some points needed to be considered here regarding the highly politicised case which remained low key from January to almost mid-April. Suddenly, it acquired huge communal overtones at that time and virtually became a Jammu versus Kashmir narrative.
Bitterness, vitriol and abusive language in the media and on social media platforms overnight gave it notoriety. Some people organised protests over a long time demanding a CBI inquiry into the case. They expressed doubts regarding the role of the state police of J&K in the case.
There was so much acrimony that it led to the resignations of two BJP Cabinet colleagues of Mehbooba Mufti. Chander Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh quit the Cabinet as they were accused of supporting the rapists. However, they stoutly denied this charge saying they only wanted a CBI probe into the incident.
Since then, Lal Singh has mobilised the public in various parts of the Jammu region in his favour. He has also founded an organisation named Dogra Swabhiman Sangathana and held several rallies. Deepika did know that once the case was shifted outside J&K, the trial would be held in that court. Did she not understand clearly that her professional commitments in Jammu and nearby courts will suffer? Or they will need to be sacrificed for attending the court outside the state?
Since she is a lawyer, it can be safely assumed that she understood this thing clearly. Did she want to ease herself out of the case since she appeared pro bono in the case? After the action initiated by the victim’s father, are there any other consequences for Deepika? The answer to this is not very clear right now other than the hostile reaction of many people in Jammu and elsewhere.
During the hearing of the case, then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had allotted a government house to Deepika after she made allegations that she faced threats to herself. This was something that was an apparent corollary of her association with the victim’s case.
She also got a couple of awards for her stance on the case in the months following the transfer of the case. Deepika was also supported on Twitter by Emma Thomson, and this led to a surge of support for her. Social activist Sushil Pandit said in a TV programme that a political agenda drove the case. It was not just a case of a heinous crime but used to paint some people as villains by the "secular brigade".
A woman claimed that she too worked with rape victims as also their families and one way to express solidarity with them was to be with them in the trial courts. Deepika has not been with the family of the victim, and that is something a very sore point.
Deepika apart, some other people associated with the case have also seen things change drastically and dramatically for them during the recent times. These are people like Leftist activist Shehla Rashid and activist Talib Hussain.
Talib had claimed at one time that he was a lawyer and mobilised support for the victim’s family. He and Shehla Rashid also mobilised funds for the family of the victim. Some reports said that Shehla Rashid alone had got more than Rs 40 lakh in the name of the family. This entire amount, however, never reached the family who said that they had to sell their livestock for money.
Some days ago, Shehla Rashid shut down her Twitter account saying she was being targeted. She denied allegations against her but not explained, what was the total amount she had received from donors in the name of the family. Also, as to how much of it was passed on to the intended beneficiaries.
Talib Hussain was accused of rape by a close relative some months ago. The alleged victim said that she was threatened with a sharp-edged weapon in a jungle and raped. He was then arrested and lodged in the Hiranagar jail in Kathua. His supporters, however, alleged that this was a conspiracy against him, accused the police of beating him up and denying him treatment.
The father of his wife accused Talib of abandoning her as she became the mother of a girl child. This case is also being tried in a court of law against him, and he is out of jail in some cases on bail.
Not only this, a JNU student accused Talib of raping her while she supported him for standing up in the Kathua rape case. The student wrote an anonymous article on a social media platform and recounted her ordeal. She said that she had met Talib in Delhi and participated in some demonstrations he addressed.
This put Talib Hussain among those well-known people who were accused of improper behaviour and worse as #MeToo campaign raged some time ago. He has not been charged in this case so far, and nothing much is in public domain regarding it.
At one time, Talib Hussain was being represented by the well-known Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaisingh. Following the allegations by the anonymous JNU student, Indira disassociated herself from Talib. She said that she would no longer represent him in the court.
(The writer is a Jammu-based senior journalist)