Talib Hussain, the lawyer and activist behind the mobilisation for justice in the Kathua gang rape and murder case, has been reportedly tortured in Samba police station while on police remand. He has suffered injury to his head, with a fractured skull, and was rushed to a hospital in Samba.
Earlier, The Leaflet had reported on Talib Hussain’sarrest 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. Within 24 hours, Samba police arrested Talib Hussain from Tral in Pulwama district, translated the complaint from Urdu into English, circulated copy of FIR to the media and also booked Talib Hussain under the Arms Act for possessing a meat chopper.
This is not the first accusation levelled against him. Talib Hussain’s estranged wife had earlier filed a case of domestic violence against the Bakerwal activist. An eyewitness, requesting anonymity, have claimed that on the day of occurrence of the alleged violence mentioned in the FIR, Talib Hussain was in a conference two hundred kilometres away from the place mentioned in the FIR.
Threat to Talib Hussain’s life
The court granted a stay order on the abovementioned FIR on July 30. The very next day, his wife’s sister-in-law filed an FIR on the accusation of attempt to rape against Talib Hussain. He was arrested on July 31 and remanded in the police custody. Another eyewitness and a close aide of Talib Hussain has alleged that he was brutally beaten on August 5. “There is a huge bump in his skull. Blood is visible through the bandaged head. However, there are no records in the hospital.” Talib’s aide further alleged that none of his relatives are allowed to visit Talib Hussain in the jail. “They are not only chased away by the police but also by the leaders of organisations who have been supporting the murders and rapists in the Kathua case.”
According to the eyewitness, Talib Hussain has expressed his anxiety over his life to him on several occasions. He fears that his role in fighting for justice for the eight-year -old Bakerwal girl has put his life in danger. He fears he will be punished for taking a stand.
Polarisation along communal lines
Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a huge polarisation on religious lines on the Kathua murder and gang rape case. Hindu Ekta Manch, a right wing organisation, carried out rallies in support of the accused. These rallies were attended by two ministers of BJP, who later handed their resignation. The Kathua bar association also staged a protest against the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police and tried to stop them from filing charge-sheet in the court of chief judicial magistrate against the accused. Recently, Aseem Sawhney, one of the lawyers for the accused was elevated to the position of Additional Advocate General, the top post for a government lawyer in the state. Many have criticised the government’s decision.
Shifting of Kathua trial out of J&K
The ongoing Kathua trial was shifted to Pathankot on May 7 by the Supreme Court apprehending threat to the victim family, witnesses and their lawyers.
Considering the “unwarranted situations that have occurred in and outside the Kathua Bar Association”, and “the involvement of many groups and various other aspects”, the Supreme Court concluded that a fair trial was not possible at Kathua. Stressing on the proponents of fair trial, Supreme Court held that “a fair trial is a sacrosanct principle under Article 21 of the Constitution of India” and “it takes within its sweep the conception of a speedy trial and the speedy trial meets its purpose when the trials are held without grant of adjournment as provided under the provisions contained in Section 309 of Criminal Procedure Code”.
The Bench of Chief Justice DipakMisra, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice A M Khanwilkar in an order has provided protection to victim’s family members and Advocates Deepika Singh Rajawat and Talib Hussain. It stated, “As an interim measure, it is directed that the respondent-State shall keep the security, as provided to the family members of the victim, in continuity; provide security to Ms.Deepika Singh Rajawat and her family members; and that protection shall be provided to Mr. Talib Hussain, who is assisting the victim’s family in prosecution of the grievance by remaining present in the Court or engaging counsel to assist the public prosecutor.”
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