A verdict has been returned in the trial referred to by most media as ‘the Kathua case’, a regrettable tag which has a way of distancing us from 8-year-old Asifa Bano who was kidnapped, held hostage in a Hindu temple, sedated for four days, repeatedly gang raped by grown men, & then bludgeoned to death. The chief priest of the temple where the crimes were committed, a police officer, & another lowlife were sentenced to life in prison for criminal conspiracy, murder, kidnapping, gang rape, destruction of evidence, & drugging the little girl. Three other defendants, all police officers, were convicted for destruction of evidence in the crime & sentenced to five-years although they were accused of involvement in planning the crimes. A seventh defendant who is a juvenile was acquitted although he was also accused of rape & murder.
Asifa’s parents Muhammad Yusuf Pujwala & Naseema Bibi are members of a religiously Muslim oppressed caste living in Hindu-majority Jammu. This savage crime against little Asifa was a deeply personal violation of her humanity but it was also a political crime involving gender, ethnic, religious, caste, & class oppression in the same way as the lynchings of Blacks in the US South were personal & political oppression. The family & community have not received even the semblance of justice in this verdict.
Many are expressing outrage over the verdict & the defense will be appealing the verdicts because the brutes were not sentenced to death. All seven should certainly be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole but even in the case of such unspeakable violence against a child, the death penalty remains a weapon of the oppressors & not a suitable form of justice for the oppressed. There is no possible justice for the monstrous crimes committed against this little girl or for her family & community. Bloodlust doesn’t cut it. To address justice, we must commit ourselves to active solidarity with the struggles against gender, ethnic, religious, caste, & class oppression, & to the struggles against Hindutva nationalism & the military occupation of Jammu & Kashmir.
May little Asifa Rest In Peace although justice is not yet forthcoming.
(Photo is Asifa Bano)