“I never knew they would do this to a child, her milk teeth were yet to fall out,” says innocent 8-year-old Muslim girl’s father whose brutal rape and heartless murder has put humanity to shame.
Asifa was a nomad girl who loved to take her horses out for grazing to the forest near her home in Rasana, which made her an easy target. The village is located in Kathua district in Indian-held Kashmir, where Muslims are often subjected to abuse as part of ethnic, racial and religious tensions. What is being described as a conspiracy to drive nomadic Bakarwal community and force them to leave the land, the incident’s ulterior motives have escalated Hindu-Muslim tensions inside India as well.
Involvement of a retired government officer, his juvenile nephew, a close friend and a special police officer make the situation even worse – as they say ‘it’s obvious they will be let go off’.
After a few days of loud protests across the country and globally, the sentiments seem to have calmed down now. Asifa’s cries are now slowly fading away, just like thousands of women in the region who were used as a weapon of war. But after suffering through the worst of pain, what is Asifa’s family going through?
DID SUFFERING STOP FOR ASIFA’S FAMILY AFTER BURYING HER?
Unfortunately, no. For the bereaving, it has just started another struggle added to what they were previously facing. The nomad tribe that facilitates it’s living by herds of goats and horses and hence migrate every year in search of grazing pastures. Their presence in the area threatened the Hindu community as they believed Muslims are controlling their land and water.
However, they succeeded. The nomad tribe is migrating early, as they say, they are completely petrified.
Rafeeza Bano, Asifa’s mother, says she was horrified to see her innocent child.
“There were scars on her cheeks. Her lips had turned black and her eyes had bulged out. It was a scary scene for a mother to see’’ – she told Aljazeera.
But that was not all. After the incident received global coverage, Asifa’s family was threatened.
“They said if our men are given the death sentence, we will kill you one by one. After Asifa’s body was found, Hindu people came to us and threatened us” – her father Akhtar told Aljazeera.
She was the youngest of her parents. She was adopted by her maternal uncle Muhammad Yusuf, who loved her as his only child after losing his three children in an accident.
“After she was killed it created more fear than before. We now take our daughters along all the time, all in our community became protective towards our daughters” – said Yusuf. He said that they are scared and horrified more than ever before. Even after subjecting them to this brutality, they are still receiving death threats. More than their own lives, they are now scared for their daughters.
‘’We left home earlier than usual due to fear. There is a fear among all the Muslim families in Rasana and most of them have left now. We are afraid to go back’’ he said. He also told that this was not the only incident. The ultra-Hindu nationalists dominate the area. They would scare people, attack their animals and threaten them regularly.
Gazala, her aunt, said that before this the kids were free to play outside with their horses. Now they never let them go away from their sights. They feel vulnerable and unprotected.
Asifa’s elder sister Manega said she has never seen something this gruesome.
“I saw her dead body. I now fear a lot. We don’t play, we don’t go out alone. Asifa’s killing has shattered us”, she said talking to Aljazeera.
With all they were struggling with, his family’s vulnerable selves are additionally burdened with seeking justice for their beautiful child. As the topic is slowly dying away, her hopeless family is on a hunger strike in the village asking for investigations to be done by the federal investigative agency.
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