The all-woman Group of Intellectuals and Academicians sent a fact-finding team to Kathua. It returned with the same demands as the Hindu Ekta Manch.
New Delhi: Just two days before the Supreme Court is due to hear a petition on transferring the Kathua rape and murder case trials out of Jammu and Kashmir, a Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA) has submitted a report to minister of state in the PMO Dr Jitendra Singh and home minister Rajnath Singh, questioning the J&K police’s investigations into the case.
All the members of this group have links or share ideological space with the RSS and the BJP, and have demanded a CBI probe into the incident.
Jitendra Singh is the MP from the Udhampur constituency, which includes the Kathua region. While accepting the report, he called for an “unbiased investigation” into the case, stating his aim is to ensure that the culprits are punished.
What the report states
The report submitted by the GIA reflects the same allegations put forth by locals in Kathua, including the Hindu Ekta Manch and the bar associations of the region.
The five-member team visited the region between 23 and 26 April, and met the families of the accused, their lawyer, and Jammu Bar Association members. However, asked if they met the victim’s family, the team members said they couldn’t do so as the family members were nomads and had already migrated, adding that they contacted the victim’s biological father over the phone.
“The charge sheet mentions gangrape by at least three persons over many days. This is not corroborated by the injuries described in the postmortem report. No such injuries are reported on the victim in the Kathua incident, which according to the chargesheet is a gangrape. Postmortem report only mentions abrasions but no injuries,” states the report.
The report ignores the findings of the medical board that the victim was drugged, and hence could offer least resistance, which was the reason for fewer injuries.
It compares the post mortem report with another post mortem report of an eight-year-old girl who was also raped and killed, and says, “in the other case injuries, the private parts were severe with intense bleeding”, ignoring that every case is different.
It further raises questions over the composition of the team probing the case, saying: “The crime branch team consists of two ethnic Kashmiris apart from the SSP Crime Branch Jammu, who is also Kashmiri. In a sensitive case like this one and in a state like Jammu and Kashmir, this matters.”
The report also states that many Hindu villagers have had to leave Rasana village, the scene of the crime, “due to harassment by the crime branch”. It also says that the government of Jammu and Kashmir “should not alienate” the population of Jammu.
Choice of case and timing
Asked about the timing of the report, released just ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on 7 May, and if it could amount to influencing the court, Monicca Agarwaal, one of the members of the team, told ThePrint: “We were not even aware of the Supreme Court hearing scheduled Monday. We went there towards the end of April and it took us some time to compile the report.”
GIA’s track record
About three years old, the website of GIA, an all-women group, claims that it works on “Indian nationalism” and the welfare of Hindus, among other social issues such as “women empowerment”.
Some of the memoranda listed on the organisation’s website include those addressed to the chairperson of National Human Rights Commission regarding the sense of insecurity and exodus of Hindu families from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, to the HRD minister regarding removing “anti-national” elements from NIT, Srinagar, and a certain “Hate-India” campaign at the Press Club of India on 10 February 2016.
Most of the seminars it has organised hinge on the topic of nationalism. Some of them include “Communist Violence: Growing Intolerance in Kerala”, “Atrocities done on RSS/BJP in Kerala”, “The anti-nationalistic activities in Ramjas College, Delhi University”, “Bhartiye Sanskriti-Way to Vasudev Kutumbkam” (sic). It has also organised seminars on gender budgeting, on getting justice for Jisha, who was raped and murdered in Kerala in 2016, and an interactive session on “Women in India”.
On its first anniversary celebrations in Delhi, it organised a special lecture on nationalism, where top RSS leader Dr Krishna Gopal was one of the key speakers.
The team that went to Kathua
The convener of GIA and an advocate by profession, she was associated with RSS’s student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) since she was secretary and then president of the Delhi University Students’ Union between 1992 and 1994. Considered close to the late Pramod Mahajan, she contested from Delhi’s Malviya Nagar assembly seat on a BJP ticket in 2003.
She has been championing the cause of ‘nationalism’, and often speaks along the same lines as the RSS and the BJP.
In a blog post, Arora, now standing counsel for the central government in the Delhi High Court, wrote a “befitting reply to insulting article on RSS in Outlook magazine”. The article was titled “Operation Babylift”.
A retired district judge from Nagpur, Khadakkar holds several posts. She is the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, an all-India lawyers’ association affiliated to the RSS, and also heads the Nagpur chapter of the Jammu Kashmir Study Centre, a Right-leaning think tank. She has been vocal about the abrogation of Article 35A, which, along with Article 370, grants special rights and powers to the state of J&K.
She is also associated with other social causes such as maintaining an orphanage.
Chitalkar is an assistant professor of political science at DU’s Miranda House. She is pursuing a PhD from the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, on the subject ‘Public policy in regions of political conflict’.
Her areas of interest, according to the college website, are Indian political thought and international relations.
Chitalkar claims she is not associated with any political party and has been working on several social issues. She says she has a keen interest in Jammu & Kashmir and has been studying the state for decades.
She is a senior journalist who had tried her hand at documentary film making. Her national award-winning documentaries have been on subjects like women in non-conventional professions and women prisoners.
One of the projects she’s currently working on is with Ekal Vidyalaya, whose global president is Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra. Sharma worked for Chandra’s Zee News for close to a decade and a half. Chandra is now a BJP-backed Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana.
Sharma also briefly worked as part of BJP leader Vijay Goel’s staff when he was union minister for sports and youth affairs.
Known to be close to Arora, Agarwaal is a social worker. She insists she is not associated with any political party or organisation, and has worked with the GIA since its inception.
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