On January 11, social media in Kashmir went frenzy with updates and hashtags mourning the murder of Zainab, a 7-year-old, of Pakistan’s Qasur city. Almost coinciding with this,
Asifa, an 8-year-old Gujjar girl from Jammu’s Hiranagar went missing. Her body was recovered on January 18. She was raped and later murdered.
The tragedy sent Jammu and Kashmir into instant mourning. The issue rocked the state legislative assembly and protests erupted across the state. The major protest rallies were held at ground zero and most of them were led by advocate turned activist Talib Hussain. Public reaction forced police to constitute a Special Investigation Team and Hussain was satisfied. But the situation changed as the government handed over the case to State Police Crime Branch.
This, Talib said, was done deliberately to oblige BJP’s local MLA, who had met the police. Reaction led the government to constitute a Judicial inquiry and shifted the SHO, but it also led to the arrest of Hussain. This was when everybody started asking: ‘Who is Talib Hussain?’
Talib was born to Nomad parents who died after they were caught at Dooru in Islamabad during 2014 devastating floods.
Survived by three more brothers and four sisters, Talib graduated in Law from Jammu University in 2015. There, he had taken admission after his graduation from Jammu’s Maulana Azad Memorial College.
In the University, Talib was once rusticated after he led a protest within the campus against authorities for failing to start the Gujjar and Pahari campus. His hunger was dubbed a bid to mobilize a particular community.
Separated after his marriage failed, Talib was a practising lawyer until November 2017 when a nomad family was dragged by cops in Jammu for demanding “their rights”.
The incident forced Talib to shift his base to Jammu and fight for his community’s rights.
Talib later founded All Tribal Coordination Committee. He believes the Muslim community particularly the Gujjars and Bakerwals’ rights are being trampled upon and their inherited properties are taken forcefully by the other community at the behest of RSS. He sees Lal Singh’s forest policy dictated by RSS as a result of which Forest Rights Act is not implemented. This, he says, is being done for vote bank politics.
Off late, Talib planned to restrict his activities to “activism” only. However, his community “immense sufferings” at the hands of “the RSS and other Hindu extremist forces” may take him to:”political activism” as well.
Campaigning for Asifa’s justice was not the beginning of Talib’s activism. During his college days, when a nomad girl was murdered and later another mutilated. Lal Singh, then, with Congress, made repeated promises of justice but failed. Talib says the real culprits in Asifa’s brutal murder are being shielded in a planned manner under the guise of his age. He sees a lot of politics in it, something he says he will fight it out. He has detailed the police compromises in the Asifa story, so far.
On January 10, Talib said, Asifa was kidnapped from Govrasa and subsequently the following day, the family lodged a complaint with police. At Hiranagar, Munshi and SHO tell the family the case being “government work” will “take its time”.
Hussain alleged that police never tried to search the girl except for doing a formality when it searched the forest area for a day. On January 12, FIR was lodged. Police quickly descended the hamlet when the body was recovered locally. All Tribal Coordination Committee led by Talib, now demands a judicial inquiry into the incident so that the culprits involved are brought to justice.