Deepika Singh Rajawat, an eminent lawyer who came into the limelight for fighting against all odds to help eight-year-old Asifa Bano’s family, who was raped and murdered in nomad tribe inhabited district of Kathua has won the prestigious award of ‘Woman of The Year’ at the Indian Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ladies Wing. The Ladies Wing committee members selected her as the most deserving and applauded her grit and dedication to get the accused of the infamous Kathua rape case behind bars.
Eight-year-old Asifa Bano was raped and murdered by eight people with a political stronghold in January 2018. Rajawat came under vicious attack from several political party and religious leaders, who threatened her to drop the case. Rajawat worked relentlessly in spite of receiving daily life threats to get the case transferred outside the state to ensure a fair trial. Rajawat gained international acclaim from various groups across the world including the Lawyer committee from Canada, as well as she won the Radical Desi medal of courage by IAPI. Rajawat recalls checking her house constantly throughout the case as she feared for the safety of her own family members. She said,
I didn’t expect the mental torture I would go through when I took the case, I still fear they would kill me someday or keep maligning my reputation. My friends and neighbours stopped interacting with me and my family because they feared about their safety. I was labelled as a traitor and antinationalist, and there were times it hit hard and I thought of dropping the case.
Rajawat said referring to the abuse she received.
Six out of the eight accused have been awarded life-sentence and five-year terms earlier this June by the court. Four police officers involved in the case have been given comparatively shorter terms. The Bano family is pressing further for the death penalty for the entire group of accused.