“It’s a heart-wrenching rape of a minor girl and we should all remember that crimes like this have no religion or colour.”
The recent gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old child from the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir has sent shockwaves throughout India.
In the chargesheet, which was recently submitted to the local magistrate, the Crime Branch of the J&K Police has uncovered grisly details of how the child was abducted, drugged, and gang-raped for days before being brutally murdered. This heinous crime was committed to terrorise the Bakerwal community into leaving the area, said the chargesheet.
What has angered many Indians is the behaviour of a Hindu hardline group called the Hindu Ekta Manch, which has protested against the arrest of the accused, and is backed by two ministers of the current ruling PDP-BJP government—Chowdhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga.
Seeking to communalise the entire affair, they claim that the J&K Police is trying to harass the Hindu community by arresting a retired land official and eight others, including four police personnel.
Further anger has come at the sight of lawyers from the Jammu Bar Association trying to stop the police from submitting the chargesheet to the magistrate. This influential lobby of lawyers also reportedly opposed the registration of a case. How these people call themselves officers of the law is quite frankly beyond anyone’s comprehension.
However, there is hope for the victim’s family. Despite deliberate attempts to communalise the entire affair, a senior police officer—Ramesh Kumar Jalla—from the Kashmiri Pandit community is leading the charge for justice.
Investigating the crime
Senior Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) Ramesh Kumar Jalla and his team are spearheading the investigation into this horrific crime despite intense pressure from the surrounding community to communalise the affair.
Through the course of this investigation, he uncovered some grisly details. The accused were reportedly caught with circumstantial evidence of the gruesome assault they committed on the eight-year-old inside a temple in Kathua district.
Despite all the pressure, Ramesh and his team finished their investigation in reportedly “record time” and submitted a charge sheet to the magistrate on April 9—10 days before the 90-day deadline set by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. It was his team who were confronted with the unruly lawyers group trying to stop the police from submitting the chargesheet.
Ramesh, who is heading the Crime Branch in the Jammu region, and his team are receiving assistance from a Special Investigation Team led by Naveed Peerzada, a young officer with an “extraordinary track record of solving tough cases,” reports Asia Times.
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Ramesh is from Srinagar and joined the state police as an inspector in 1984. He was awarded the President’s police medal for taking on militants during his stint in the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the J&K Police, according to this 2000 The Hindu report.
Ramesh is also known to have taken out many high-profile terrorists. According to some accounts, he reportedly has an impeccable track record when it comes to handling sensitive cases.
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Speaking to Asia Times, Ramesh denied any pressure coming from the top during this investigation despite arresting his colleagues.
“Fortunately, I didn’t have any pressure from anyone. Nobody approached or pressured me. No minister, no politician ever talked to me about this,” he said.
It was only after filing the charge sheet that Ramesh spoke of attaining some semblance of peace in his mind.
“I had a sound sleep after over two months,” he said.