The family of eight-year-old Asifa who was found raped and murdered in Jammu’s Kathua has fled from their village Rasana following a strike call (Jammu Bandh) from the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Bar Association regarding J&K police’s investigation.
According to The Times of India, Muhammad Yusuf Pujwala, the girl’s father, along with his wife, two children and livestock left for Samba, which The Logical Indian also confirmed. The family was to leave for Kashmir next month but rising unrest forced them to leave early.
The Bakarwal nomads spend the summers crisscrossing the mighty Himalayan mountains with their livestock, herding sheep on the lush green meadows, camping along fresh water-streams and selling milk from goats and buffaloes. As the winters set in, they descend on the plains in Jammu, a climatically warmer place during the snow on the mountains.
200 Bakarwals had bought land from local residents to build houses in Rasana. They are a Sunni-Muslim nomadic tribe. Most of them are goatherds and shepherds. They are found in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan and in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. Even Asifa’s burial was not peaceful. Her family wanted to bury her in a land that they bought and had already buried five people. They were surrounded by Hindu right-wing activists who threatened them with violence if they were to continue with the burial, reported BBC. They buried her 10 km away in a different village.
Altaf Jan, uncle of the murdered girl told The Economic Times in January 28, 2018, that there was huge discrimination against them. “The two communities have cultural differences. But there is systematic effort to harass us. For example, water supply schemes and other government schemes are not implemented in areas where Bakarwals live. Many times we are not allowed to take water from community tanks,” he told. “We face huge discrimination. This is to make our life difficult here,” he added.
The district authority while speaking to Firstpost has assured that they shall look into the matter and will ensure their properties are protected.