Deepika Singh Rajawat: Difficult [now] for me to even rent a home with my daughter

Updated: Dec 30, 2018, 08:44 IST | Anju Maskeri | Mumbai

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since. Today, Deepika Singh Rajawat has been dropped from the case by the family citing lack of attendance at court hearings

Deepika Singh Rajawat
Jammu
Became the first lawyer to represent family of Kathua rape victim
Seven months ago, lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat was all over newsprint. A picture of her striding out of the court, flanked by male lawyers, had gone viral. She was, after all, the only lawyer who had chosen to represent the family of an eight-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua. The image prompted British actor Emma Watson to tweet, "All power to Deepika Singh Rajawat."

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since. Today, Rajawat has been dropped from the case by the family citing lack of attendance at court hearings. She might be divested of the power of attorney, "but I'm still as invested in the case," she tells us in a phone conversation from Jammu. "Yes, it pained me to hear of their decision, but I am still tracking the Pathankot trial with the same rigour," she says. The 38-year-old Kashmiri Pandit is an advocate at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, and chairperson of Voice for Rights, an NGO for human rights. She also works for Child Rights and You (CRY).

So, choosing to represent the family pro bono was a move that came naturally to her. "They needed me. It was a critical time because there was involvement of political leaders, investigation was hushed up and evidence destroyed. The matter was taken up in the high court when we filed a writ petition for monitoring the case. And, if you see the orders, all the arrests, except a few, have been made, all thanks to the orders of the high court," she says.

By offering legal support to the victim's family, Rajawat went against two state ministers who defended the accused. She recalls how the threats and intimidation made her fear for her safety. "They have tried to damage me to the core by casting aspersions on my character and called me 'anti national', making it difficult for me to even rent a home with my daughter. Her education has been affected. Nobody knows of the sacrifices," she says. She hasn't regretted the decision. "It's my duty as an activist and lawyer." And her faith in the judiciary remains intact. "Justice will be done," she says.

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