If We All Get Scared, How Will the World Work, Asks Kathua Lawyer
Farooqui assures that none of the hate he received was tinted in communal colour.
“This verdict will send out a positive message about the judiciary not only in India, but even internationally – the message that minorities are safe here.”
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Mubeen Farooqui, the 34-year-old private counsel for the the Kathua rape-murder victim’s adoptive father Yunus*, appears self-assured and calm a day after the Pathankot trial court convicted six of the seven men accused in the case.
“But we will move the Chandigarh High Court to appeal against the acquittal of the accused. The paperwork for this has already begun,” he adds calmly.
With Pathankot Came Farooqui’s Commitment to The 500-km Journey
In March-April of 2018, he had approached Yunus, Aafreen*’s adoptive father and the complainant on the case. “During that time, Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising had moved the motion of shifting the case out of Jammu. I expressed interest in being the private counsel if the case moved to Punjab,” he says.
The case moved to Pathankot by May 2018 and Farooqui committed to being their private counsel.
It was through Farooqui that Deepika Rajawat was given power of attorney in the case in Pathankot. However, within six months she was bumped off the case by Yunus. “Due to Rajawat repeatedly bringing up her safety, her daughter’s future and the two-hour travel between Jammu and Pathankot, they thought best she was not attached to the case,” he said. While this ended her legal association with the case it only solidified Farooqui’s.
His family was worried though, as he had to travel around 250 kilometers one way from his home in Malerkotla to reach Pathankot.
His two daughters – a three-and-a-half-year-old and another nine years old – wife and parents would regularly tell him they were concerned about his safety. “Yeah, they would hint at the need of me having taken up this case. However, it is my job to defend. If we all start being scared, don’t do our jobs or get out of home, how will the world work?”
Farooqui is quick to give credit where due. He makes special mention of police officials and the public prosecutors for their ‘hard work’ on the case.
“Santok Singh Basra and Jagdishwar Chopra were the Special Public Prosecutors and Harminder Singh and Rupinder Singh from the Jammu and Kashmir crime branch, all of them deserve to be lauded. To get all facts on record, to get all witnesses to come and testify in court, a lot of hard work has gone in,” he says.
Farooqui: Have Been Intimidated, But Didn’t Jump to The Media
Farooqui says the transfer of case from Jammu to Pathankot was needed for the trial to continue being an unbiased one. “The transfer was a great decision because of which we feel, Satyamev Jayate (truth will triumph), which is the soul of our Constitution, has won.”
Farooqui says when you are in a high-profile case then threats and intimidation are a part of the job, adding that he never wanted to bring those issues to the limelight. “I can speak now as the verdict and sentencing is over but in January five months ago when I left the court premises after proceedings, someone threw a stone at my car from the front side. I was driving alone.”
He assures, however, though that none of the hate he received since day one was tinted in communal colour or that he was targeted because he was a Muslim.
Narrating another recent incident, he says while he was trying to cross the road right outside the Pathankot trial court on the day when final arguments were presented, he recalls, "kissi ne mere uper bakaida gaadi chalane ki koshish ki thi (Someone definitely tried to run their car over me).
His family has known of these threats over the last year but have not succeeded in keeping him from attending the hearings. “Every time a private witness needs to testify, I have ensured I am there. When I left home the morning the verdict was to be delivered, my mother, as a joke of course, said she will give me a gift of Rs 5,000 if I bring a favourable outcome in the case,” he says laughing.
Later when The Quint called to check whether his mother delivered on her word after hearing of the convictions, a smiling Farooqui said, “Yes, yes, very much, she was standing right outside the house when I went. With an envelope in her hand she gave me the money. I don’t know what I am going to do with it yet, still deciding.”
(*Names changed to protect identity)
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