Neel Banerjee

Zero Tolerance After Asifa

Neel Banerjee
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The High Commissioner of India in Australia

Subject: Petition with respect to Asifa Banu’s torturous death and to protest against the current climate of ongoing political atrocities towards Muslims and other minority communities in India


We are writing this letter, to express our deepest sorrow and shock at the abduction, brutal and multiples rapes upon, and pre-meditated, cold-blooded murder of Asifa Banu, the eight-year old Indian girl from Kathua in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Our condolences, belated and ineffectual as they are, go out to her family: words fail to even imagine their indescribable pain as their daughter was sexually tortured for seven days, killed and dumped in a forest, and then denied burial in the local graveyard in January 2018.

Through this letter we express our anger, distress, and mute hopelessness at the unjustifiable delay and cover-ups in the investigations to bring justice for a minor from the Muslim Bakerwal nomadic tribe, whose murder is not only reported to be a sexually-based crime, but also politically-motivated by a campaign of deep hatred and ongoing discriminations against Muslims and other minorities in the current Hindu-majority government. We are equally outraged at the protection being provided to the accused, who belong to the Hindu community in Jammu and Kashmir, and whose members conspired to commit this horrific crime.

This incident is one of the many heinous crimes being committed, reported and covered in domestic and international media, against members of the many minority communities of India on a regular basis ever since the current ruling government came to political power in 2014. The abuse of women and minors as fodder in these hate crimes, of using rape as a weapon of war against its own citizens, of engaging in overt and covert intimidation against those who dare to speak out, is the all-too-common face of the dastardly campaigns that seek to obliterate the existence of, and engage in a sustained drive against, Muslims and other minorities in India under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

We are a group of writers, art-practitioners, academics, and media professionals in Australia who are closely connected to India. As concerned citizens of Australia and India, we are deeply invested in the ongoing health of our democracies, the growing bilateral relationship between the two nations, and in drawing attention to and addressing the damage being done to both under the current Indian government. We are appalled, outraged and ashamed at the way gender oppressions are appropriated, torture on minority groups are justified, and interventions into people’s daily lives, food habits and cultural practices are being committed with impunity in the name of Hinduism under the aegis of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, led by the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi.

We are calling for ‘Zero Tolerance After Asifa’ and urging the Indian government, which you represent in Australia, to take immediate action in providing justice to Asifa and all other victims of sexual violence, to provide support and compensation to their families, and to restore the faith of citizens and the international community in Indian democracy by bringing the perpetrators to justice immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Neel Banerjee – (Theatre Practitioner in Sydney, Australia)

Dr Roanna Gonsalves - (Writer in Sydney, Australia)

Dr Mridula Nath Chakraborty - (Academic in Melbourne, Australia)

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