Deepika Singh Rajawat, a 38-year-old Jammu-based lawyer, says she has been threatened with sexual assault for taking up the case of the brutal rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Bakarwal community in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district. “I am being hated. I have been isolated. I don’t know whether I will survive this,” says Rajawat, who had filed a writ petition in the J&K High Court in February, seeking a court-monitored investigation on behalf of the victim’s father. She says it was only after the court began monitoring the case that investigation showed results.
“This hatred has to do with the politico-religious nexus—the use of religion to mobilise partisan support, which has been a feature of politics in South Asia for almost a hundred years now,” says Siddiq Wahid, former vice-chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology in Pulwama district. “And this also has to do with the blurring of lines between democratic empowerment and partisan emboldening in politics. Democratic empowerment makes good argumentation the central feature of the process. Partisan emboldening allows for partisans to claim preferential treatment as a right for reasons of identity. The BJP-RSS family has concentrated on emboldening India’s majority to become majoritarian aggressively and without apology. That’s Hindutva. Hate is just a step away.”