“Is it graceful for lawyers to hold sticks in their hands? Doesn’t that lift the faith of the people from lawyers and the judicial system?” said Deepika Singh Rajawat to ANI (video above). Rajawat is the advocate fighting the case for the eight-year-old victim who was held captive, repeatedly raped and then murdered in January in Kathua, in Jammu.
Rajawat said that Bhupinder Singh Salathia, the President of the Jammu High Court Bar Association, threatened her and mistreated her on April 4 and asked her not to appear in court. Writing on her Facebook page the next day, she said that Salathia used “unparliamentary language” with her and threatened her for appearing in cases during a strike by the lawyers. According to News18, when she told him that she was not a member of the bar association he replied, “Yaha par gandd phailane ki zarurat nahi hai (There’s no need to spread filth here).” When she protested, she was told, “I have the means to stop you.”
On April 9, she wrote on Facebook, “Helpers in ladies bar room at trial courts have been directed not to offer me water by Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association.”
Rajawat said in the video above, “Mr Salathia has mistreated me and he has threatened me. They think they can threaten a woman and the woman will hide or get scared. But they don’t know, this woman is not one to get scared. This woman will stand for a Hindu and Muslim and Sikh and Christian, because I am a human being. Even I have a five-year-old daughter. Mr Salathia should know – and I don’t want to get personal – that even he has a young daughter in his house.”
Rajawat also said, in the video below, that following the threat she filed a complaint against Salathia to the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. “I said I’m not safe here, I don’t know how long this protest will go on, how long this strike would go on. I have cases to appear [in],” she said, adding that the High Court directed the security wing to ensure her safety whenever she appears in court. Rajawat went to on to say that Salathia tried to stop her because the Kathua case was listed, which was the reason for the bandh by the bar association.
On Thursday afternoon, when asked about the alleged threats, SD Jamwal, Inspector General of Police, Jammu, said, “I’ve heard. But she [Rajawat] has not yet come to me or the SSP [Senior Superintendent of Police] about it. She needs to come to us if there is any such complaint.” Since no official complaint had been made, he said, the police had not given protection.
“The lawyers who are on strike right now need to understand one thing – that this case was monitored by High Court. Knowing it well, still they demand that CBI should investigate it,” said Rajawat. “We all know that at the initial stage, evidence was destroyed. What is the CBI going to do now?” She added that the lawyers are aware of remedies and should have tackled this at the initial stages before the High Court or the chief minister, instead of taking to the roads or harassing people and litigants.
“They are lawyers, they know how the cases go ahead, ” said Rajawat. “They can come to the court, they can plead their case well. If they are innocent, if the crime branch has not investigated the case properly or fairly, they can prove themselves innocent in the court. Instead of taking to the roads and pleading for CBI inquiry. They need to wait, they need to have patience. They need to go to the court and say ‘Look, sir, we are innocent. Please, sir test me’,” she added.
On Wednesday, the Jammu High Court Bar Association had called for a bandh in Jammu after the police registered an FIR against lawyers who tried to prevent them from filing a chargesheet in the Kathua rape and murder case. Before that, members of the Kathua Bar Association had staged a protest outside the district court in Jammu to prevent members of the state police from filing a chargesheet before the chief judicial magistrate.
One of the lawyers said, “We have been opposing this since day one.” They alleged that the investigation by state police was not fair, and demanded a probe by the CBI – the same demand was made by the Hindu Ekta Manch, a new group formed in Kathua in January 2018 to protest against the arrests of the accused in the case.