Asifa Bano, an 8-year-old girl, took her family’s horses for grazing in the forest near her home in Rasana, a small village in the Kathua district of Indian-administered Kashmir. However, on that day in January, she never returned home; a week later, her mutilated body was found in the woods.
The police said that Asifa was kidnapped, drugged, and gang-raped before she was murdered. It was determined that the attackers strangled the helpless girl before hitting her head twice with a rock to make sure she is dead, Al Jazeera reported.
The girl was reportedly kept in a Hindu temple in India, and she was sedated since being locked up. For the four days that she was held captive by eight men, Asifa was also never fed. Then, on the day when she was bludgeoned to death, three men repeatedly gang-raped her first.
Moreover, prior to her death, it was learned that one of the attackers, Sanji Ram, told his adolescent nephew that it was time to kill the girl, but Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer and one of the accused, asked for her killing to be delayed so he could rape the child one last time.
Eight men, including a Hindu temple custodian and retired public official, were arrested in connection with Asifa Bano’s rape and death. The gruesome details of the 8-year-old’s murder were released after the first trial on April 16 — where all of the accused have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
As indicated on the charge sheets filed by the crime branch, a local investigating agency, the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Bano was premeditated. It was a systematic plan ingrained in religious hatred. Sanji Ram, the alleged main conspirator, is a Hindu and against the Muslim nomadic community of Bakarwals.
Why Asifa Was Targeted
The 8-year-old was the perfect target because she was a nomad, and the gang is comprised of people who want to drive the nomads out of the Kathua district in Jammu. Second, Sanji Ram knows that Asifa often goes to the forest alone, so abducting her would be very easy.
The eight men accused of the crime were mostly related to Sanji Ram, the leader. His co-accused includes his son, nephew, friend, and four police officers. His son and nephew were believed to have been instructed to kill the child and destroy important pieces of evidence. On the other hand, two of the police officers were arrested for accepting a bribe to prevent the investigation.
Meanwhile, according to the Daily Mail, the lawyer fighting to get justice for Asifa recently revealed that she has been receiving rape and death threats. Just a day before the trial, she shared that she was threatened with a “we will not forgive you” message. The lawyer is hoping to get protection by going to the Supreme Court and telling them that she is in danger.
This case has sparked nationwide outrage, and a number of protests were staged across India in the past few days. The protesters are demanding stern and swift action on Asifa Bano’s case.
The court set the next hearing date for April 28.