Kathua, Jammu: Hang the accused or shoot us, the mother of the Kathua eight-year-old, whose rape and murder outraged the country and sparked global condemnation, told NDTV. "If there is no justice, shoot all four of us," she said, two days ahead of the Supreme Court's decision on whether the trial should be moved out of Kathua.
"They will kill us if they are freed. People in four villages are after our lives. We are only four people... everything is gone; our house, our entire property is gone," the child's mother told NDTV.
The girl's father has requested the Supreme Court to transfer the trial out of Jammu and Kashmir, citing a "backlash" and lack of security for his family. "We are apprehensive that the trial will not happen peacefully, seeing the condition in Jammu... seeing that lawyers opposed it in Kathua and did not let the chargesheet proceed," the family's lawyer told the top court.
The child's mother alleges that her family is being pressured by local politicians to agree to a probe by the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI). The family wants the Crime Branch of the state police to continue with investigations. The girl's mother alleges that politicians are pushing for a CBI probe "to save the accused."
"If the police had acted when we first filed a complaint, the child could have been saved but they sat on it for seven days," she told NDTV.
"Koi begunah nahin hain (no one is innocent)," the mother said - her voice choked with emotion - when told that Sanji Ram, the main accused in the case, had told the Supreme Court that he was innocent and was like a grandfather to the child. All eight accused have petitioned the court seeking a CBI probe to catch the "real culprits".
Police chargesheet said the murder was carefully planned to drive out the nomadic community
The accused, while pleading not guilty, have asked the district and sessions judge for a narco test. Six including a former revenue official, two police officers and a minor, are accused of keeping the little girl sedated and without food in a small temple for days, raping her over and over and finally killing her. The girl's body was found in the forests on January 17, a week after she went missing from the spot where her horses were grazing. A police chargesheet says the murder was carefully planned by the retired official, Sanji Ram, to drive the girl's nomadic Muslim community out of Kathua's Rasana village.
The Supreme Court on Monday will decide if the case should be moved out for fair trial; the girl's family has filed a petition seeking shifting of the trial to Chandigarh. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra said it will deal with the prayer of the victim's father for shifting of trial to Chandigarh and plea of the accused seeking handing over the probe to CBI.
The family, belonging to the Bakerwal Muslim nomads alleged, they face extreme discrimination after the child was raped and murdered. "The local people don't even let us use the pastures on the village outskirts for grazing goats after the incident...they will come after us if they are freed," the mother said.
Before his arrest by the state crime branch, Sanji Ram had told NDTV that he would not allow grazing and fodder to Muslim nomads because there are Hindu shepherds who need this fodder.
"I am not allowing their goats into our area. We have our Hindu gaddis. They have been saying we will build mosque on your house. If CBI inquiry is ordered you will know who has done this," Sanji Ram had said.