“I understand what injustice means, I have seen my parents suffering because of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. Growing up in a migrant family was not easy, we were traumatized. But that’s when I decided to begin my quest for justice and not to bow down by intimidation.”
Connecting herself with the horrific incident of ‘rape and murder’ in Hathras region of Uttar Pradesh, Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat stated that this episode and its consequential progress has reminded her of 2018-Rasana rape and murder case, when attempts were made by power holders to muzzle the voice for the justice.
“I have witnessed how pressure was exerted on the family of the victim as well as social activists, who stood by the cause,” said Advocate Deepika in an exclusive talk with The Typewriter.
Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat first captured the country’s attention in April, 2018. The nation was shocked yet divided by the news of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomad girl Kathua district of Jammu & Kashmir. Since the victim was Muslim and the accused were Hindu, the case quickly took a communal and political turn. In the face of an alleged police cover-up and support for the accused, Deepika was among those few who stood up for the victim. She offered legal support to the victim’s family, going up against the two state ministers, who defended the accused. In fact, it was Advocate Deepika who took the parents of the victim to the High Court at Jammu for monitoring of the investigation that was conducted by the Crime Branch, Jammu. She also guided them to approach the Supreme Court of India for seeking transfer of the trial to Pathankot, Punjab.
“The political involvement to suppress the facts in Hathras has reminded me how difficult it was to seek justice for the rape and murder victim of Kathua under constant harassment and threats from particular section of the society,” Advocate Deepika said and added that even her own fraternity opposed her. “On April 4, when I was there in the High Court, J&K High Court Jammu Bar President late B.S Salathia asked me not to appear in this matter. When I told the bar president that I was not a member of the said BAR Association and hence I can appear for the cases I want, he replied, “Yaha Par Gandh Phailane Ki Zarurat Nahi Hai (no need to spread filth here)” When she protested, she was further threatened, “I have the means to stop you,” Advocate Deepika said and maintained that she was even denied drinking water in the High Court by an office bearer of the BAR Association.
Advocate Singh further said that her heart bleeds when she read the news about rape, but it hurts more when some politicians and section of society supports the accused and colour it in the name of religion and caste.
“What is happening in Hathras is reflection of widely pervasive casteist mindsets, similar to what happened in Kathua rape case, where the accused were supported because of their religion,” said Advocate Singh, adding that these brutal sexual assaults against women are being framed as isolated incidents of crime rather than atrocities which are the outcome of systemic and deep-rooted casteism and misogyny.
Deepika Singh Rajawat further informed that she received rape and death threats, and was constantly trolled on social media.
“The false narratives weaved by some politicians and deliberately endorsed by few media houses shook me to the roots and I am still bearing the repercussions of those fake narratives. It was disastrous, I was labelled as anti-national and anti-Hindu for supporting rape victim, who happened to be an eight-year-old Muslim girl,” Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat said and added that similar treatment is being meted out to the people and social activists supporting rape and murder victim in Hathras, who happens to be a Dalit.
“It needs courage to face such circumstances and stay firm, because not everyone likes to be branded as anti-national. BJP, which is playing with the sentiments of the people lacks merits to win, the only way that they use to gain support is to peddle fake nationalism, which is causing more damage to the nation and the same needs to be stopped to protect the country from getting ruined,” Advocate Deepika Singh said, adding, “The people who never wanted me to stand for the victim of Kathua started lobbying allegations that I have taken huge funds in the name of the victim, which is absolutely fallacious, because had it been the case, I would have been living a lavish life and not changing homes every few months.”
In the past few years, Deepika was ‘forced’ to change her accommodation thrice as house owners did not want her on their property. All of them discontinued the rent agreements, for reasons that she has fought Kathua case.
“Let me be very frank, nothing is more troublesome and exhaustive than changing houses. In the last almost three years, I am unable to settle down at one place. You can imagine the travesty of my life, in 2018 I celebrated Diwali in Government accommodation, in 2019 I had to celebrate it in Gandhi Nagar rented accommodation and this year, I will be celebrating in the other house,” Advocate Deepika said and added that all this is happening due to unwavering smear campaign against her.
She maintained that with god’s grace, she is doing well in her profession and people ‘trust’ her, but the ramifications of the fake narratives are still bothering her and the same has caused immense damage to her reputation in the society which cannot be repaired.
“Few months back, one of my friends had selected a particular house and even the rent was fixed, but when they came to know about me, they refused,” she said and added, “There was a wave against me, I have approached a lot of people. The moment they learn about me, they flatly refuse. This also happened to me in June when I was looking for an office.”
When asked about why she was dropped from the Asifa case by her parents, Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat said that you might have heard how the Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar is ‘threatening’ the family of the victim.
“It can be sheer coincidence that administration in Uttar Pradesh was caught on camera while threatening the family, while as in Kathua case, some BJP leaders, who were openly supporting the accused, could not be, perhaps, recorded while threatening the biological father of the victim,” said Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat, adding, “Moreover, had I been a state lawyer, I would have been in a position to do the trial also. As a private lawyer, until appointed by the government, cannot do a session trial.”
She informed, as a private lawyer she took the case to the Supreme Court, but could not do it further because she was not permitted by the government or appointed as a Special Public Prosecutor in the case.
She further noted that due to involvement of politicians, it becomes difficult for lawyers and social activists to take up such cases and thus justice is eluded.
‘’I understand what injustice means, I have seen my parents suffering because of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. Growing up in a migrant family was not easy, we were traumatized. But that’s when I decided to begin my quest for justice and not bow down by intimidation,” Deepika said, adding “In present scenario, it is getting difficult for activists in India to raise their voice against injustice. They are either killed or jailed. By imposing stringent laws on the activists, the ruling party is trying to silence the saner voices to enjoy unaccountable terms.”
“Despite having stringent law governing the subject, why crime against women is increasing day by day”, she questioned.
“Ruling BJP that came up with the slogan of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao needs to be firm on its implementation as mere playing with the words will not protect the women in India. They need to walk extra miles to actually make women feel safe in India”, she further added.