Gurpreet Singh: Visiting human-rights defender from India introduced to B.C. MLAs

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      A courageous lawyer who stood up for the family of an eight-year-old victim of brutal rape and murder in India received a warm reception at the B.C. legislature on May 16.

      Deepika Singh Rajawat stepped forward to take up the case of Asifa Bano—a Muslim nomad girl who was raped and murdered  in January 2018 by Hindu fundamentalists in the city of Kathua in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

      Rajawat was introduced to the B.C. legislature by Surrey–Green Timbers MLA Rachna Singh.

      Back at home, Rajawat has come under vicious attack from supporters of the ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) for coming to the defence of the victim’s family. An undeterred Rajawat continue working tirelessly to get the hearing transferred outside the state to ensure fair trial.  

      The accused people, including a priest named Sanji Ram, allegedly conspired to use rape as a weapon to terrorize the Muslim community. They were openly defended by BJP supporters.

      Rajawat was invited to Canada by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI), a group that was established in response to growing attacks on religious minorities under a BJP government that wants to turn India into Hindu theocracy. IAPI is going to honour her with a medal of courage at a public event on Saturday (May 18) between 2 to 4 p.m. at the Surrey Central Library. The brief ceremony will be followed by her speech on the current situation in India.

      Singh also raised the issue of Asifa Bano in the legislative assembly last year.

      Members of the house welcomed Rajawat with a huge applause. 

      Later, Rajawat met Premier John Horgan outside the legislature, where Horgan welcomed her on behalf of the people of province.

      Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor and a founder of Radical Desi. He's also the husband of Rachna Singh and a cofounder of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India.