There are defining moments for every nation which showcases the morale of the society, as a whole and how we react shows what we as a society stands for when something gruesome happens. The bone-chilling Kathua crime has been proved as one of the darkest acts after the charge sheet of the case were handed out; but the case has taken a sombre twist, questioning the very moral of us, as a society.

On January 10, an eight-year-old girl was abducted, confined in a small temple, abused, drugged, gang-raped repeatedly for days and finally brutally battered to death by strangling, raped again for one last time and was hit with a huge stone on her head by the accused, just to make sure she was dead. Later on, the investigating police officers tried to destroy the evidences by washing off the deceased girl’s clothes before sending it for forensic examination. If this doesn’t boil our blood, if this doesn’t make us stand up for justice for an innocent eight-year-old girl – then the question is, what else does? It is also expected for us to stand up for the girl because India is generally angry, heaving streets, thousands of us were raged against the rape of a young woman called Nirbhaya, “India’s daughter”, all was at peace, everyone fought.

The case this time is from a small town of Kathua which belongs to the state which we proudly call, the Crown of India – Jammu and Kashmir. As per the post-mortem reports, Ashifa – that young child of Kathua’s nomadic Bakerwal community – our child, your child – had lacerations on her private parts and the cause of her death was by “asphyxia leading to cardio-pulmonary arrest”. After discovering her body on January 17, conducting forensic reports and the confessions from all eight men accused, the Mehbooba Mufti government handed over the case to the Crime Branch of India (CBI) for justice.

India was expected to welcome this move by the Kashmir government as it will grant justice to Ashifa – but instead, it has sparked outrage across Jammu and Kashmir in support of the eight accused – including four police officers and a teenager. This is new. People supporting rapists and murders with open protests – this has never happened before. Rarely has the 21st century Indian society stood beside rapist, protesting to justify the heinous act of gang rape and murder of a child. Rarely before was the Indian flag insulted by using it in such a cold inhumane protest. Rarely before did the lawyers screaming “Jai Shri Ram” to prevent the police from filing the chargesheet of the crime. Rarely before has India faced the so-obvious darkest side of its society and refused to recognise it.

The question is – WHY? The thought of this haunts me. What depths are we stooping to? Where have our morals lost? Where is our humanity compass now? Are we so divided that we cannot stand together as humans? What makes our society rot into roots? For the sake of being humans and for the sake of our nation – let us be firm with bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice. Let us show respect to the laws of India, the laws of humanity. Let us look beyond race, caste, gender and age. She is India’s daughter too. Let us, once again shout for justice. Justice for Ashifa! Justice for Ashifa! Let’s not make crime and justice communal. Let us all stop the spread of this rot of being divided – for once and for all.