NEW DELHI: The announcement that the Jammu and Kashmir government, using the combined wisdom of the PDP and of course the BJP, has decided to bring in Sikh investigating officer in the face of Hindu-Muslim distrust was like a slap on the face of Indian democracy. And that it was a clear effort by both the political parties in government to consolidate their respective constituencies is clear from the fact that the investigation in the Kathua rape case was being carried out, till date, extremely professionally by the state Crime Branch, transparent, direct and fearless.

This was largely because of a professional team led by Ramesh Kumar Jalla, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch, who carried out the investigation. The Citizen that has been following the investigation since the 8 year old girl was abducted and killed three months ago, It is largely because of the investigation that refused to come under the pressure of the BJP, whose ministers had participated in a protest for the release of the rapists, that all the accused were arrested ten days actually before the 90 day deadline of the High Court expired.

Jalla, refused to come under the pressure, and carried out a thorough probe with arrest after arrest following. The entire story of how the little girl was abducted, taken and confined in a temple, raped repeatedly, burnt and tortured, and finally killed have come out through the police investigation that has remained firm through the tense weeks and months in Jammu and Kashmir.

He exposed the Hindutva lot who had abducted the 8 year old girl to teach the nomadic tribes a lesson, to strike fear amongst the Muslim community and to ensure that her death became an example that would deter the nomads from coming down to the Jammu region. Jalla was given the space because of the support of the PDP faction of the government with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti responding to the outrage in the Valley, and promising justice no matter what.

However, the police team and the Crime Branch in particular to which the investigation was entrusted came under severe pressure from the right wing forces that dominate Jammu. The ministers Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga who participated in the Hindu Ekta Manch rally demanding the release of the policemen who were actually amongst the first to be arrested by Jalla’s team were a case in point, with pressure being exerted in the initial stages of the investigation to squash it. The lawyers protest more recently tried to block the chargesheet from being filed, but the police team that could do little at that time, returned later to ensure that the document was filed.

The charge sheet makes it clar that the motivation was to make the nomads flee the area dominated by Hindus. That she was drugged and raped several times inside the temple, with the alleged mastermind Sanji Ram performing rituals on the little girl. And that at least one of the accused was brought in from Uttar Pradesh to satisfy his lust along with local policemen of whom four have been named in the chargesheet.

The team that led the investigation was Jalla, assisted by a young police officer Naveed Peerzada. It was a meticulous investigation, that brought out startling facts that had escaped the initial police investigation. The Jammu Crime Branch team traced the mud found on the 8 year old girl clothes, the strands of hair found in the temple that provided the evidence after DNA testing, and worked around the clock to break the case, arrest the accused, and file the chargesheet. Four cops have been arrested in the case, with the chargesheet recording the payment of Rs 150,000 as bribge to a local policeman as well who was not part of the rape team but had got to know where the girl was being hidden.

Read this paragraph from the chargesheet: “After committing the barbaric act of rape on the minor victim, the accused Khajuria kept her neck on his left thigh and started applying force with his hands on her neck in order to kill her … Khajuria was unsuccessful in killing her, the juvenile killed her by pressing his knees against her back while strangulating the girl by applying force on both the ends of her chunni, or scarf. Thereafter, the accused, in order to make sure that the victim is dead, hit her twice on head with a stone.’’

Jalla is from Srinagar. A Kashmiri Pandit. Peerzada a Muslim. This is Indian democracy.