'I Never Betrayed Them, They Betrayed Me,' Says Kathua Case Advocate, A Victim of Polarisation Herself
'I was very badly hurt twice in this journey'
“I was hurt twice during the months of the (Kathua rape-murder) trial, so badly that I went into depression for days but I carry no bitterness. Once, when I was branded an anti national by the Hindu right, and the second time last November by the Muslims when the parents (of the little girl raped and killed) filed a petition taking me off the case. I just could not believe it,” said advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat. She has tood steadfast for justice since January 2018 when the body of the little nomad girl who had gone missing, was found.
Very happy about the court verdict that held six of the seven accused in the rape case guilty, Rajawat is determined to ensure that the higher courts are approached with a petition challenging the one acquittal. She admitted to The Citizen that hers has not been an easy journey. She had no idea of how tough it would be when she took up the case.
To the point where today she is trying to find accommodation to live in ---with her 8 year old daughter--in Jammu but “can you imagine no one is willing to give me a place on rent.” The response is “she is with the Muslims”, “she is against her own people”, “she is anti-Jammu”, Deepika Rajawat said adding, “ I remain a social outcast because I took up this case.”
But from the other side too, the embrace has been withdrawn. Vested interests amongst the Muslims started a whisper campaign against her, and the parents were made to file a petition removing her as their lawyer.
“I was devasted, I could not believe it. I had not betrayed them despite the pressure, but they betrayed me,” Rajawat said. However, in the same breath she added, “I do not have any complaints against the parents, they are innocent, they were manipulated and brought under pressure.”
From her account it has been an impossible journey. She took up the Kathua case, but within no time was attacked by the Hindu right as being pro Pakistan, and what hurt her most, anti-national. Then the Muslim right started hitting out at her, to the point where even the parents of the little girl, were persuaded to act against her, in November 2018.
Deepika Rajawat was responsible for shifting the case out to the Pathankot court and as she said now, “justice has come because I ensured this, fought for it.” But no one seems to be thanking her for it, or at least recognising her role. She is a pariah for many in both communities. However, that does not seem to deter her.
For her there as a lawyer there is no Hindu or Muslim as all are equal under the law. “For me the Indian Constitution is my Bible, Gita, Quran. I do not look at a case according to the religious identity of a person. I am a lawyer committed to the rightful implementation of the rule of law,” Rajawat said.
She said that she was not going to give up despite the pressure that had been brought on her, from abuse to threats, and now a situation where is not being able to rent a house in Jammu. Deepika Singh Rajawat was clear that for her justice was ultimate, and she was prepared to continue fighting at least in an advisory capacity for “full justice” for the litte girl. She is issue based cases currently,relating to land mines, women rights, juveniles and other such issues.
“What offense have I committed? I have only done my duty as a lawyer”. This thought clearly keeps her going, her head above the nastiness that has not left her doorstep since January 2018.