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Let me begin with a statutory warning- you might find what I’m about to narrate blood curdling, stomach churning, reprehensible and even terrorizing. I can’t but help tell the story as it is representative of ‘Modern India’, on her way to the 22nd century, in the most dark and repulsive fashion regrettably. The country was once known for a culture, which had as its integral part, respect for women and girl children. That India we all knew has lost her very soul. She is now capable, most insensitively and indifferently to brush under the carpet, the brutal killing of an eight-year old girl in the hands of brutal men-worthy only to be termed animals, with a ‘chalta hein’ (so be it) attitude and move on.

In early January this year, it was just another day for eight-year old Asifa Bano. She wore a purple dress that day, and she grazed her horses in a meadow in Kashmir. That is when a man beckoned her into the forests. She followed him with the naiveté of an eight-year old girl.

Not having returned home, the family suspecting trouble filed a complaint with the local police. Days later, on January 17 2018, the crumpled body of a girl, still wearing a purple dress, but now smeared with blood, was found inside the forest.

Asifa was a Muslim nomad, and part of the Bakarwal tribe. For generations, the Bakarwal nomads have been drifting with their herds across the planes and hills of Northern India. They have been leasing pastures from Hindu farmers for their animals to graze in winter.

Asifa’s death would have passed off as death of yet another child in India. So many children die in India after all! What’s the big deal about Asifa?  For reasons most reprehensible, shameful and repulsive than the gory episode itself, Asifa’s death blew over into a national issue. It made headlines in the press, Indian as well as foreign. India stood among the comity of more civilized nations with her head hung in utter shame. Why?

Details of Asifa’s death, as they emerged during police investigations spoke of a coldblooded murder, most macabre and a kind one would hesitate to wish it upon the child of one’s worst nemesis. Which would ultimately have Indians doubt their country’s civility, basic humaneness, and even the process of evolution, which for some reason seemed to have come stuck, leaving them stranded midway!

Eight men were arrested in connection with the case. Several of them confessed to the crime, according to the Jammu and Kashmir Police. Two of the accused were police officers, said to have accepted big money to hush up the crime. One of the arrested was even a teen. Eight men arrested were Hindu, and little Asifa, a Muslim!  The sequence of the crime which led up to Asifa’s death was unparalleled. The girl, after being abducted by the stranger, with a friend’s help was dragged to a nearby temple. There she was locked up, given sedatives for three days and raped several times by different men. According to the police, she would have been killed sooner had one man not insisted on waiting so that he could rape her one last time. To ensure her death, Asifa’s killers hit her twice on the head with a stone, according to charging documents filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police and published by the Indian news website Firstpost.

Later, it emerged that the murder was the brainchild of Sanji Ram, the custodian of the temple in which the drugged Asifa was locked up, raped and murdered. His intension was to terrorize the Bakarwals, whom he wanted to be driven out of Katwa since long. He had been personification of terror to the Bakarwal nomads in Katwa town. He  Was also the ringleader of some Hindus in Katwa, who had begun a campaign of abuse against the nomads.   The murder, which by itself was most gory, paled into insignificance in terms of notoriety and a larger conspiracy compared by what followed during the months after Asifa’s killing.

  • Driven to the wall, and having been charge sheeted by the police, Hindu ‘Nationalists’ turned Asifa’s murder into a rallying cry- not calling for justice for Asifa, but rushing to the defense of the accused, as almost all the men arrested following the murder were Hindu, and Bakarwals, the tribe to which Asifa belonged were Muslim. The so-called ‘nationalists’ identified an ideal situation to make hay. To fan trouble. To further their ‘nationalist’ cause, whatever, and however dark that might be. To divide people along religious lines. To have Hindus hate Muslims, over the dead body of an eight-year old Asifa!
  • Some of the police investigating the case were Muslim. Hindu ‘activists’ who claimed they could not be trusted demanded the case be turned over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is nothing but the ruling government’s stooge. The government in the centre is led by the BJP. The party, along with the PDP also formed part of the coalition that governed Jammu and Kashmir. The stage was set for Hindu ‘nationalists’ crusade over the dead body of the eight-year old Asifa, a Muslim, who was kidnapped, drugged and raped many times over by different monsters, like those vultures do in the wilds- to peck at a corpse, by turn, many times!
  • Some weeks later, a mob of Hindu lawyers physically blocked police officers from entering a courthouse to file charges against the murderers.
  • Protests and counter protests spread across Kashmir. Much of Kathua was shut down by demonstrators, including dozens of Hindu women, who helped block a highway and organize a hunger strike. Even womanhood seemed to lose and fail before ‘nationalism’ and religion in its worst form!
  • That a Hindu temple formed the ‘epicenter’ of the crime made the shameful situation more combustible. The cornered Hindutva forces cut a sorry figure. They had to wriggle out of it somehow.
  • People demonstrating on the streets against the investigating police included ministers of the ruling BJP-PDP coalition. Two of them were subsequently dismissed from the ministry following a vociferous national outcry that could not be ignored. At the time of writing, hours after taking oath as J&K’s new deputy Chief Minister, Kavinder Gupta, a RSS loyalist chose to describe Asifa’s murder as a ‘minor incident that should not be given much importance’. One wonders if his observations would have been along similar lines if his own daughter or granddaughter were to meet Asifa’s fate. Maybe it would have been; who knows!? Anything sells these days for Hindutva and ‘Nationalism’.

The murder committed in the most heinous fashion that will put even lesser animals to shame having been done, and the perpetrators and those who remote controlled them having shown their true colors and intensions, has every Indian hang his/her heads in shame. What does Asifa’s murder and events that followed mean for India? It means many things:


  • Bharat Mata, or mother, that India is similized to by these very same nationalists was raped many times over by different men, and head smashed with a stone to ensure Bharat Mata is dead and long gone, when little Arifa was killed in early January !
  • The mother referred to when these so-called nationalists sing Vande mataram, and want rest of their countrymen to sing with each breath, in which Bankim Chandra Chatterjee meant to say ‘I bow to thee, mother’, was killed most cruelly along with Asifa.
  • India has been rendered most insensitive and indifferent that she wouldn’t hesitate to look the other way when a little child of eight, especially if she is a Muslim is raped and killed, and the rapists happen to be Hindus, and the chief conspirator a temple custodian, and the site of the crime, a temple, where God dwells…..supposedly!
  • India is a country in which women, irrespective of age are unsafe. It is a country meant only for men. Men driven to rabid lust, thanks to testosterone and skewed ‘religion’ running in their veins. Men unable to contain their criminal tendencies that defy civility and law.  Men who have no second thoughts to take turns to rape and kill an eight-year old. Men who have no shame to stand by the perpetrators, and demand ‘justice’ for them, instead of for the victim.
  • India would ensure from henceforth that justice will not be permitted to be served if a Muslim child is raped, and if the rapists happen to be Hindu ‘nationalists’.
  • India has, undoubtedly been divided asunder along religious lines. Her soul has ceased to be, while religion and its ugly face were bestowed preference over basic humanity.
  • Indians will no more seek justice, if a Muslim child is raped by Hindu sympathizers.
  • Through Asifa’s most terror-provoking murder, India seems to have lost her very soul. And Katwa has proved that beyond any figment of doubt.
  • The song penned by poet and songwriter of yesteryears, Vayalar Rama Varma in 1972, which he wrote for a Malayalam movie, and one which won Dr. K.J. Yesudas, it’s singer one of his many national awards came true through this gory murder, making that song and Vayalar prophetic. The vision of the poet who foresaw gory events that would smudge India in 2018, way back in 1972 appeared truly remarkable and fatalistic simultaneously. As Katua became the gateway to a soulless India through the murder of eight-year old asifa, the song penned by Vayalar rings loud and clear in our ears:

Man created religions
Religions created gods
Man and religions and gods, together
Divided the land
Divided the mind

…became Hindu
…became Muslim
…became Christian
We became unrecognizable ( to ourselves and each other)
India became a mental asylum
Thousands and thousands of human hearts became weapon- store houses
God dies in the street
Satan laughs

Where is truth?
Where is beauty?
Where is freedom?
Where are our blood relationships?
Where are our eternal loves?
Where, the incarnations that come once in thousand year cycles?
Man dies in the street
Religions laugh

Man created religions
Religions created gods
Man and religions and gods, together
Divided the land
Divided the mind