Shwetambari Sharma, who is being widely hailed for cracking the Kathua gang-rape and murder case, has spoken about her pain on the support the rapists and murderers received from the local population, all Hindutva supporters.
“It was really painful to see people supporting (rapists and) murderers by holding tiranga (India’s national flags). Local residents used to suppress the witnesses….I am a Dogri. In our culture they say that daughters belong to everyone. They never have any religious or caste identity. We should first become humans. Hindu and Muslim come later. We have to recognise that the humanity has been murdered here.,” DySP Sharma told News18.
Sharma, a 2012 batch IPS officer, was the lone woman member in the SIT, formed to investigate the brutal gang-rape and murder of the 8-year-old girl in January this year. The girl was kept hostage inside a temple for days in a sedated condition before she was mercilessly killed.
Sharma said that the local population in Kathua did not spare even the police team, investigating the case. “At times, we were also attacked. I remember how we were attacked when we went there to gather evidence and Section 144 was imposed in the area. We were finally able to leave the area with the entire team. Later, our SP wrote to the SSP Kathua asking him to lodge an FIR against those goons, who attacked us,” she said.
The Crime Branch team were not allowed to enter the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate by lawyers in Kathua. They could only enter the court to file the charge-sheet after reinforcements were called. However, after they were able to enter the court, even the judge refused to accept the charge-sheet. The development was unprecedented in the history of Indian judicial system. Kathua Bar Association had later called for a one-day bandh on 12 April.
On the merit of the charge-sheet, Sharma said, “What we’ve filed is a preliminary charge-sheet, the supplementary charge-sheet is yet to be filed. Our case is based on not just the confessions but we also have the scientific evidence. This is a foolproof case.”
Cracking the Kthua gang-rape case had its own pitfalls for Sharma, who said that she had to made several sacrifices during the investigation. She said, “My seniors never made me feel that I was a woman in the tea. We all worked together. Yes, when we worked late night, as a mother and sister, I could not devote time to my children in their exam preparations. I could not spend enough time with my husband.”
One defence lawyer, Ankur Sharma, had later controversially questioned Sharma’s intelligence since she was a woman. He had said, “She is a woman. How intelligent can she be.” Sharma had later said that the comments reflected the lawyer’s male chauvinistic mindset and they did not deserve a response.