Arrest of Talib Hussain, key activist in justice for Kathua gangrape-murder case, raises multiple doubts

By Ashutosh Sharma. Dated: 8/7/2018 12:07:05 AM

"Police arrested one Talib Hussian, the mastermind in organising the protests in much publicized Rasana(Kathua) kidnapping and murder case and creating a Hindu-Muslim divide in the region from his hideout at Tral in South Kashmir district of Pulwama," read the introduction of a news report carried by Daily Excelsior, the largest circulated English daily in Jammu province, on its front page this Thursday, August 2.
Bakerwal activist Hussain was instrumental in raising and pursuing the abduction, gangrape and murder of the eight-year-old girl from his nomadic community by a group of people including policemen and the son of a temple caretaker in Rasana village of Kathua. It was Hussain's tenacity that led to the issue being raised in the Assembly that finally resulted into the arrest of the accused. Hussain himself, however, was arrested on August 1 by Jammu Police under the Arms Act following an accusation of attempt to rape levelled by the sister-in-law of his estranged wife.
The extraordinary interest taken by BJP MLA Choudhary Lal Singh, newspapers in Jammu and a section of the police, all of whom went out of their way to protect the accused in the Kathua rape case in January, 2018, in getting the Bakerwal activist arrested has raised doubts about their motives.
The police had been restrained from arresting Hussain by the J&K High Court in a case of domestic violence filed by his estranged wife. While the court order was issued on July 30, the sister-in-law of his wife filed a complaint of rape, committed allegedly a month and a half ago, on the very next day.
Within 24 hours, Samba police arrested Hussain from Tral in Pulwama district, translated the complaint from Urdu into English, circulated copy of FIR to the media and also booked Hussain under the Arms Act for possessing a meat chopper.
Soon after his arrest, several Jammu-based scribes started sharing the copies of FIR on social media, targeting Hussain. While sharing copies of FIR in a hurry, most of them seemed to have forgotten to conceal identity of the complainant. According to the law, anyone publishing the name of a rape victim is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.
Incidentally, BJP MLA, Choudhary Lal Singh, had earlier told the local media that Hussain was part of the 'Tukde-Tukde Gang', had connections with separatists, was responsible for several bomb blasts in Jammu and the attack on an army camp at Sunjwan in February.
The Kathua rape case had polarised people on communal lines and the Jammu unit of almost all political parties including BJP had then sided with the accused, who were Hindus. Amidst mounting tension and acrimony, the Supreme Court had transferred the trial of the case outside the state to Pathankot in Punjab.
The sister-in-law of his estranged wife (her brother's wife) in her complaint to the police claimed, "About one and a half months ago, I had gone to the jungle for grazing cattle. Talib Hussain-who is my relative-met me in the forest. He was armed with Tokka (a sharp-edged weapon) and with intention to rape, he thrashed me and pinned me to the ground. He put his finger in my private part. But I raised alarm and freed myself from him. Flashing the Tokka, he threatened to kill me if I told anyone about the incident."
The complainant added, "Due to fear, I couldn't tell this to anyone. Today, I told the whole story to my husband. So, it is requested that necessary action may kindly be taken against the accused."
Speaking to the local media, however, the complainant gave self-contradictory statements recently. In one video interview, the complainant claimed that she was raped by Hussain whereas she maintained that Hussain attempted to rape her while talking to another media organisation.
Earlier, Hussain's father-in-law, Mohammad Tahir accused him of creating Hindu-Muslim divide in Jammu, besides collecting money in the name Kathua rape and murder victim, speaking to the local media. "He (Hussain) is a Pakistani, he is a terrorist…he is a separatist," Tahir had claimed, accusing Hussain of demanding dowry and domestic violence.
Significantly, the Supreme Court earlier on April 18 had provided police protection to Hussain for assisting the Kathua victim's family in prosecution by remaining present in the Court or engaging counsel to assist the public prosecutor.
"He has been provided Personal Security Officers by the Jammu and Kashmir police who accompany him 24X7 for his security. This fact can't be ignored," asserted Guftar Ahmed Choudhary, a student of Jammu University and Hussain's friend, arguing that "those who sided with the accused in Kathua rape and murder case have unleashed a propaganda against him. It's a well-planned conspiracy. They are using his marital discord against him to settle the score."
—(First published in The Leaflet)



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