A year since the rape and murder of a child in Rassana came to light, worries of the adoptive father are far from over.
Donation money has been siphoned off from his bank account by anonymous people and he remains isolated from former neighbours in the village. Leaders who approached him initially, are nowhere to be found now.
The child’s father is facing a fresh struggle of being forgotten after the national campaign protesting the brutal rape and murder of the eight-year-old.
Despite the isolation, the man decided to cast his vote, for the leader who will “help bring justice for his daughter”.
He went to J&K Bank to withdraw some money on April 10. In turn, he received a rude shock.
“Someone has withdrawn more than Rs 10 lakh from our joint account. We have no information about it. There was more than 20 lakh in this account. We have got the statement now, which shows withdrawal. We are only left with Rs 35,000 in the account. We were even told over Rs 1 crore had been donated from all over the world, but don’t know where it went,” said a confused man.
Within three months, in different transactions, over Rs 10 lakh have been debited, but not by the holder.
He showed the passbook and analysed entries. One Aslam Khan had withdrawn Rs 2 lakh on January 11, 14, 15, and 18.
When the joint account-holders rang up one Aslam they knew in the family, he gave a vague response – thereby increasing suspicion of the father. Aslam had accompanied the man on few occasisons to the bank. There is no clarity, however, who debited such a large sum of money and if the same man misused the cheques.
Transactions took place on January 21 and 22 and Rs 4 lakh were withdrawn.
Again, not all by the holder. A new name now makes way into the statement — that of one Naseem.
The Bakerwal family is illiterate and resort to thumb-impresssions for such transactions. The fear is: Did someone get access to approved cheques and withdrew over Rs 10 lakh without consent?
The grief-stricken man asked, “Where has the money gone? We are uneducated and do not know what happened.”
Why did bank not alert the family or local authorities, considering the case was sensitive?
J&K Bank says due procedure had been followed. Money was withdrawn using cheques signed and dated so the bank could do little to refuse.
“Bank received the cheques with proper dates and impression. The family can block the cheque book, till further notice. Someone within their known circle has had access to all details and ensured bank protocol was followed,” said the branch head of J&K Bank, where the account was opened.
Shockingly, a cheque to “Self” withdrew another Rs 2 lakh on March 21, 2019. The father says he was with family in Samba and has had no access to the cheque.
In total, as of today, approximately Rs 22 lakh has been withdrawn from the account. He withdrew only Rs 10 lakh. The rest is a matter of speculation and demands an investigation.
On April 24, 2018, Ketto Online Ventures first transferred Rs 18,46,774 to the account — via a crowdfunding campaign. In the next one month, different organisations credited an additional Rs 50,000. On May 28, 2018 the balance in the man’s account was Rs.19,23,774.
Till December 23, over Rs 21 lakh showed in his bank statement with some additional credits.
From January-March 2019, sudden transactions began. Different identities withdrew over Rs 10 lakh without the knowledge of the account holder.
WHERE ARE THE LEADERS?
“I do not know where those leaders are? Initially many came and helped. They did not approach me recently.”
The father is unaware that controversial activist Talib Hussain has joined Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP and JNU leader Shehla Rashid is now associated with Shah Faesal’s new party.
In the midst of the parliamentary elections, no leader of any party has approached to express continued support to the family. Neither the National Conference nor the PDP — parties that created a furore when the tragedy had struck — have approached them offering support.
But he will still cast his vote.
“I will vote, certainly. It is my right. I will vote for the leader who will promise to deliver justice to my child. That’s my only hope”.
“WE LOOK AT HER CLOTHES AND SHOES AND MISS HER”.
A year on, for the adoptive father, memories of his child are still fresh.
“I look at her clothes and little shoes and miss her so much. How will we ever forget? When we climb up the mountains, we will miss her smile even more. My only hope is that justice will be delivered. I want death sentence for the culprits.”
What does he say to people who claim that innocent men were arrested over the case?
“They are in prison for one year. Would they have been behind bars if they were innocent?” asked the distraught father.
He now prepares to climb the mountains to graze his flock. Leaving behind the deception and a loss of trust by one’s own.