Thu, Apr 19, 2018 - Page 6 News List

India’s rape crisis sees Muslims flee

AFP, RASANA, India

There are no Muslims left in the village of Rasana, India, which has become a symbol of India’s rape crisis after the brutal murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl blamed on Hindu men.

Police said the girl was raped and killed as part of an attempt by some of the village’s majority Hindus to evict Bakarwal Muslim nomads, who graze their cattle in the hills in the summer months.

It seems to have worked: the girl’s family have headed for the Kashmir hills under police protection. Other Muslim families in the community of about 100 people all left after the rape in January.

Police said the child was drugged, held captive in a Hindu temple for five days, and repeatedly raped before being beaten to death.

Her anonymous grave in orange earth partially covered by weeds is in a nearby village in Kathua District, about 60km from the region’s main city Jammu.

Media reports said Hindus in Rasana refused to allow the girl to be buried there.

Jammu and Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state, but the Jammu region in the south is dominated by Hindus.

Hindus and Muslims had lived together relatively peacefully in Rasana until the killing, although each side had made sporadic police complaints about the other, according to official documents.

The rape went virtually unnoticed in India until Hindu lawyers staged protests outside a Jammu court last week trying to stop police registering the charge sheet.

Hindu right-wing groups said the investigation is biased.

The release of horrific details of the murder of the girl, whose identity cannot be disclosed by law, made national headlines and sparked protests against the lack of action on sexual violence in India.

The eruption of anger has reminded many of the outrage and demonstrations triggered by the fatal gang-rape of a Delhi student on a bus in 2012 that also made headlines around the world.

The main accused in the case is Sanji Ram, a leader of the rustic pink temple in Rasana where the girl was allegedly held captive.

A minor and a local police constable are among those charged with the killing, while three police officials have been charged with accepting bribes to cover up the case.

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