‘She Would Have Been Alive’: Kathua Girl’s Foster Father Wishes He Never Adopted Her
The eight-year-old’s uncle, who adopted her when she was just six months old, says life ended for him as well the day he lost his little girl.
News18 Creative by Mir Suhail.
Pathankot: Over a year has passed since eight-year-old Aiman (name changed) was gang-raped and murdered. Six men, including the main accused and temple priest Sanji Ram, have been convicted of the heinous crime, while Ram’s son Vishal has been acquitted. Trial is pending against Ram’s nephew, who claims to be a minor.
In the spring of 2012, Aiman was just six-months-old when her mother decided to give her to her childless brother. Aiman’s uncle had suffered an accident almost a decade ago in which he had lost his mother and all his children, a daughter and two sons.
“He would always talk about his children. He was missing them and when he saw her for the first time, he cried,” said Aiman’s mother. “I couldn’t bear seeing the pain of my brother, so I decided to give my daughter to him.”
Aiman was a Bakarwal, a Muslim nomadic tribe in Jammu and Kashmir. Members of this tribe are mostly shepherds who spend their life herding cattle.
Modern education is still something new for most of the Bakarwals. As Aiman grew, her life was also spun around farm animals. She would spend her time taking horses for grazing while her family was in Kathua’s Rasana village, in Jammu region.
In January 2018, the eight-year-old was kidnapped while she was looking for the horses she had taken for grazing in nearby woods. She was given sedatives, gang-raped and then murdered. The life of Aiman, the delightful, carefree girl, met a horrific end at tender age.
Investigations revealed that the girl was allegedly raped by men from the Hindu community, “with aim to dislodge the Bakarwal community from the area”.
“For parents, children are their only hope and when kids are lost before they could grow up, life becomes meaningless,” said Aiman’s uncle and foster father who raised her. “In her, I had got a new life, a reason to live.”
He wished he had never adopted her. “Had she been with her real parents, she might not have met such a horrific fate,” he said. “She was a lovely child, brave and naughty at the same time,” he said, overlooking his herd in the mountains.
“She would manage the cattle with her whistles, jumping and running around,” he told News18. “Had she been alive, you would have seen how joyful she was.”
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