“How much land would the girl’s body occupy? We had in our arms a child who was raped and killed”
Kathua: Passing away in pain, horrified, with her body and soul scarred, away from the family, her incapability to see her parents once before closing her eyes forever was not enough of punishment Asifa had gone through while she was still breathing and now she lies in a grave on a treacherous hill 8kms away from her village in Kathua’s Rasana.
Though the family wanted to bury Asifa in their village in Rasana, after her body was found on January 17 where the foster father’s three children, his mother is buried, the family stood standing in horror when the Rasana villagers denied to give the little girl a piece of land saying the land did not belong to the family from the Muslim nomadic tribe of the Bakarwals, Hindustan times reported.
Denied a piece of land, now she lays in one of the wheat fields 8kms away from Kathua’s Rasana village. The grave is still fresh with wet mud and two large stones at both ends which indicate a fresh burial is yet to be concreted once her family returns from their annual visit to the mountains.
“As per our tradition, we do not immediately concretize the grave. We will do it when her parents return from their annual visit to the mountains with their cattle,” says a distant relative of the girl who owns the wheat field.
The piece of land which has its own significance were Asifa’s foster brother’s, sister, her foster grandmother laid after they were killed in a road accident a decade ago was denied to the innocent toddler.
With an utter disgust at how the villagers treated the young toddler, Asifa’s biological grandmother said: “It was around 6pm and we were half-way into digging the ground when the villagers arrived at the scene and refused to let us go ahead. They produced documents to claim that the land did not belong to us.”
One of the relative who offered his land for the young girl’s burial said Asifa’s foster family had purchased the property from a Hindu family a decade ago, “but they did not go through the documentation process properly. So, the villagers found an opportunity to get back at us.”
However, Rasana Hindus accepted the family had illegally buried their dead in the land maintain the property never belonged to them and now they got the chance to stop them from proceeding any further by stopping the burial in the middle.
“The Bakarwals want to take over our land one by one. So, we couldn’t allow it. But it was us who suggested the alternative option for the burial” said one of the Hindu villager Rohit Khajuria.
With no other option left, the girl’s family carried her body uphill in the dark to the fields in the chilly winter of January and was buried there.
“The girl’s foster parents would just not leave the spot despite the cold. The couple stayed there until 3 am before we could move them to a room,” said one of the relatives who has attended the burial other than several people who joined the burial ceremony of the toddler in the biting winter.
Before moving to the mountains as their annual trip the mother of the toddler would visit her grave every alternate day. “She would just sit there and cry for long hours. She would return to her home only after persuasion,” said the relative.
“How much land would the girl’s body occupy? We had in our arms a child who was raped and killed. The villagers could have shown a bigger heart at such a time,” said the Asifa’s biological grandfather.