Kathua Rape Key Witness Allegedly Tortured In Jail, Skull Broken, SC Gives J&K Govt One Week To Reply
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra heard the Habeas Corpus writ petition on August 8, which was filed by the relatives of Talib Hussain, a key witness in the Kathua rape and murder case. Hussain was arrested by the police on August 2 on charges of an unrelated case of rape and illegal possession of weapons. However, it has been alleged by Hussain’s relatives that he was illegally detained and subjected to torture in police custody on August 6. The writ petition was a result of this.
Today, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir government and gave them a week’s time to submit a reply regarding the alleged torture in police custody. The bench also asked senior advocate Indira Jaising, who has been calling for judicial intervention in the matter, to submit a copy of her plea to the advocate general.
Eminent Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising on August 6 took to her Twitter account and said that Talib Hussain was tortured in police custody at Samba Police Station. In a series of tweets, the lawyer informed that Hussain had been sent back to the same police station where he was tortured.
Talib Hussain – who was arrested last week – has been tortured in Samba police station while on police remand, skull broken, rushed to hospital in Samba, he is a key witness in the Kathua gang rape-murder case.
This is unacceptable in a democracy.
— indira jaising (@IJaising) August 6, 2018
In her latest update, Indira Jaising has said that a notice has been issued to the Jammu & Kashmir police regarding the torture and brutality that Hussain was subjected to while in custody.
Notice issued to J&K police on allegations of torture of Talib Hussain, a witness in Kathua rape case.
End torture in police custody now. https://t.co/9JKtmWcNlH
— indira jaising (@IJaising) August 8, 2018
Who is Talib Hussain?
Activist Talib Hussain led the agitation seeking justice for the eight-year-old Kathua rape and murder victim. Talib, who is a member of the Bakarwal community demanded a fair probe into the matter in the absence of the Kathua rape and murder victim’s family. As reported by The Wire, Hussain at that time had said, “They are extremely poor people and don’t know the ways of the world. They don’t understand what courts and justice systems are. But, we will ensure that that doesn’t come in the way of justice being served to them. For very long, Gujjars and Bakarwals have been denied justice.”
Allegations of rape
However, the activist was arrested on charges of rape and illegal possession of weapons on August 2 by the Samba Police at Tral in Kashmir. According to The Indian Express, the victim, who lodged the complaint on July 26 told the police that the incident of rape took place one and a half months ago in Chardwa forest where she was grazing cattle. Reportedly, Hussain had even threatened her if she spoke about the incident to anybody.
On August 8, the Supreme Court allowed the woman to move court. The next hearing has been scheduled for August 21.
Additionally, nearly a month ago, Hussain’s estranged wife had lodged an FIR against him at the Samba Police Station in which she accused him of attempting to kill her and domestic violence. However, a local court had stayed the order of the proceedings of the FIR. As reported by The Wire, Hussain, a few days before his August 2 arrest had claimed that charges are false and the cases have been filed because he has been fighting for the justice of the Kathua rape victim. Also, several other people have raised concerns that there has been some foul play with regard to the complaints that have been lodged against the activist.
Police say Talib’s injuries due to ‘suicide attempt’
Meanwhile, the Samba police have registered a case against Talib Hussain under Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of the Ranbir Penal code. Even though lawyer Indira Jaising has dubbed Hussain’s skull injuries as being police brutality, Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid told Scroll that Hussain hit himself in the head “out of frustration” and claimed that he had only sustained scratches.
However, Hussain’s relatives, who were visiting him at the police station, told The Wire that when lunch was being served, two civilians had allegedly attacked Hussain and banged his head repeatedly against the wall, while the policemen, instead of stopping the brutality, joined them. While he was taken to a hospital in Samba, Hussain’s relatives were not allowed to meet him there; it was only at the police station that the relatives could meet Hussain where they found his head bandaged and bleeding. Following this, Hussain’s relatives filed a writ petition on August 7.
Talib has been sent back to the same police station in Samba where he was assaulted. Samba hospital did not allow Talib’s relatives to meet him there. Relatives saw him at the police station. Head was bandaged, bleeding.
No further info as of now. https://t.co/B3JwiisqOL
— indira jaising (@IJaising) August 6, 2018
Background to the case
The gruesome incident took place in January 2018 when a girl from the Bakarwal community disappeared while she was out grazing ponies. Her body was recovered on January 17, a week after her disappearance, from a wooded part of Rasana village. Tests were conducted to find out whether she was raped and found that she was alive for three or four days after she went missing. She was kept in a large prayer room. Her body was found almost 200 metres from the prayer room.