Gurpreet Singh: Human rights advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat ties Rakhi on wrist of prisoner Sanjiv Bhatt

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      A courageous Indian lawyer has done something dramatic to express support for a former police officer who's in jail on what many believe is a trumped-up charge.

      The lawyer, Deepika Singh Rajawat, is best known for taking up the case of an eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl who was raped and murdered by Hindu fanatics in January 2018.

      More recently, she tied an amulet called Rakhi around the wrist of the jailed former cop, Sanjiv Bhatt, who stood up against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

      Rakhi is a symbol of bond between a sister and a brother.

      Since Rajawat considers Bhatt as her brother, she travelled all the way to Gujarat he's jailed to tie Rakhi on his wrist. She was accompanied by Bhatt’s wife, Shweta.

      For Rajawat, it was an emotional moment as she blessed Bhatt to carry on his fight for justice with courage and conviction. Both Rajawat and Bhatt are known secularists and remain staunch critics of religious extremism. 

      Bhatt was recently given a life sentence for the 1990 custodial death of a man arrested in connection with sectarian violence. Bhatt is believed to have been implicated in a false case at the behest of the ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party, which is headed by Modi.

      The former officer's supporters say Bhatt was framed because he swore an affidavit against Modi for the latter’s alleged complicity in an anti-Muslim massacre of 2002.

      According to them, this was done to instil fears in the minds of those who continue to fight for justice for the victims of the pogrom engineered by the BJP.

      Bhatt had testified that Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat when the pogrom occurred, had directed the police to look the other way and let Hindu mobs target Muslims.

      The carnage followed the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, leaving more than 50 people dead.

      Modi instantly blamed Islamic fundamentalists for the incident, even though a commission of inquiry concluded that it was an accident.

      Human rights lawyer Deepika Rajawat visited B.C. earlier this year, stopping by a historic gurdwara in Abbotsford.

      The lawyer, Rajawat, recently represented the parents of Asifa Bano, who was raped and murdered as part of a conspiracy to terrorize Muslim nomads in Jammu and Kashmir. Rajawat endured death threats for helping the family.

      In June 2019, her efforts culminated in convictions of those involved in the gruesome crime.

      She has now taken up the case of Bhatt and started a campaign to encourage women all over the world to send Rakhis to him to show their solidarity on the auspicious occasion of Rakshabandhan.   

      This year’s Rakshabandhan fell on August 15, which is the day that India became independent.

      Rajawat's campaign has generated lot of curiosity within the Indian diaspora in Canada, and Bhatt has now received 30,000 Rakhis.

      Rajawat has visited Canada twice, once in 2018 and again in May 2019 when she was welcomed at the B.C. legislature. 

      Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor and a cofounder of Radical Desi.

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