Nationwide protests demand justice for Kathua, Unnao rape victims
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Massive protests have erupted in various parts of the country to demand justice for victims of Kathua, Unnao and other rape cases. The protestors are also asking the government to create a safer environment for women in the country.

Protestors carrying banners and placards, marched the streets of Delhi, Mumbai, Thiruvananthpuram, Goa, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Moradabad and other cities, demanding that government quickly prosecute rape suspects. Candlelight vigils were also held in some places. A silent protest in Mumbai was joined by Bollywood celebs and others. In Delhi, protests were held under “Not In My Name” campaign. Several Muslim oragnisations joined protests by school and madarsa students in cities in Gujarat.

Meanwhile the trials in the gruesome Kathua rape and murder case begin tomorrow against eight accused who allegedly held an 8-year-old girl in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January this year during which she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death. The accused include a juvenile.

The chief judicial magistrate of Kathua will be committing one of the charge sheets, in which seven people have been named, to the sessions court for trial as mandated under the law. The chief judicial magistrate will, however, hold the trial for the juvenile as it is the designated court under the juvenile act.

The J&K government has appointed two special public prosecutors, both Sikhs, for the trial in the sensitive case, a move being seen as made to ensure “neutrality” in view of Hindu-Muslim polarisation over the case. The trial is expected to go smoothly after the Jammu Bar Association as well as the Kathua Bar received a rap on the kuckles by the Supreme Court on April 13 as the apex court took a strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the case.

The Supreme Court initiated a case on its own record saying such impediment “affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice”. The crime branch will also be handing over the notices issued to the Jammu Bar Council as well as Kathua Bar Council for appearing before the Supreme Court on April 19.

The Bar Association of Kathua has already retracted from its earlier statement of providing legal assistance free of cost to the accused and said after going through the charge sheet presented by the crime branch (against the accused in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate on April 9) it is revealed that the allegations against the accused persons are very grave and as such this case is to be dealt with in a professional way. The Jammu Bar Association attempted to put a brave face saying they had full faith in the SC and that their main demand was for shifting of illegally settled Rohingyas.