Bollywood celebrities hit streets to seek justice for rape victims

Mumbai: Bollywood celebrities, along with thousands of Mumbaikars, gathered on Sunday (April 15) for a peaceful protest against the barbaric rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, and sexual assault of another young girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

Bollywood celebrities like Rajkummar Rao, Patralekha, Sameera Reddy, Twinkle Khanna along with her son Arav, Akshay Kumar, actress Tara Sharma, music director Vishal Dadlani, singer and social activist Sona Mohapatra, filmmaker Kiran Rao, Aditi Rao Hydari, veteran actress Helen were among many others who came on the streets of Bandra to protest against the incidents of rape and seek justice.

They were holding placards and posters that read #justiceforasifa.

Some young girls were also present at the gathering holding posters that read: “This is not just rape, this is genocide with state support.”

“Before having a Swachh Bharat, we want a safe Bharat,” read the placard of a young burkha-clad girl.

Vishal Dadlani said: “We want to stop this nonsense now… we want action and we want it now! Once the man is accused and guilty of raping and killing a baby girl, he should be hanged then and then.”

“Our gathering shows that we as a community stand for the cause; there is a helplessness that we all feel and therefore we are standing here. We want justice,” said Sona Mohapatra.

Several Bollywood actresses like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Swara Bhaskar, Sonam Kapoor, Shruti Seth and Mini Mathur also held placards asking for justice for the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped, sedated, starved, gang-raped and murdered in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Eight-year-old Asifa’s body was recovered from Rassana forest in Kathua district of Jammu on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area. She was held captive inside a temple, and was sedated before being raped and murdered.

The DNA tests of the nomadic girl raped and murdered in Kathua district confirmed that she was held captive inside a temple before being murdered, police officials said on April 4.

“The temple premises were searched for evidence and clues after one of the accused confirmed the the minor had been held in captivity inside the temple,” a Crime Branch source said.

Sanji Ram, a retired official of the Revenue Department is believed to have masterminded the heinous crime to create fear among the nomad ‘Bakerwal’ (goat-herd) community in the village so that they could be pushed out. He is the custodian of the temple where the girl was allegedly held in captivity.

Nine accused, including the alleged mastermind Sanji Ram, his son Vishal Kumar, a police head constable, two special police officers (SPOs) and a sub-inspector of police have been arrested in the case. Eight people, including alleged mastermind Sanji Ram, have been charged with abduction, rape and murder of the ‘Bakerwal’ (nomadic) girl.

Members of the Hindu Ekta Morcha have been demanding that the investigation of the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The state government handed over the investigations to the local crime branch after the case was messed up by the officials of the Hiranagar police station.

Human rights group Amnesty International on April 12y termed the attempts by some lawyers and a Hindu group to obstruct the investigation and prosecution of the gang-rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl as “disgraceful”.

“It is disgraceful that some lawyers and members of the BJP are trying to introduce religious prejudice into the investigation of this horrific crime, and block its investigation,” Zahoor Wani, Senior Campaigner, Amnesty International India, said.

Wani said that the fact that the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had to order police protection for the lawyer of the victim’s parents showed “how deep the bigotry around this case runs”.

The Bar Association of Kathua has opposed the arrest of suspects in the case.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on April 12 assured that the law “will not be obstructed by the irresponsible actions and statements of a group of people”.