Artist Durga Malathi’s house was attacked in the intervening night of 19 and 20 April, 2018 after a series of threats by right wing Hindus on social media. The attackers targeted Durga for the pictures she drew protesting against the rape and murder of eight-year-old Asifa in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir.
It was on April 12 that Durga uploaded some of her paintings that she had drawn as a reaction to the Kathua rape and murder. All the pictures expressed outrage against the right wing Hindus who planned and carried out the rape and murder of the eight-year-old Bakerwal Muslim girl. They carried a penis integrated into Hindu symbols indicating the role of right wing Hindus in the heinous crime.
Asifa was raped for days in a Hindu temple by multiple people before she was brutally murdered and her body thrown in the woods. Following the arrest of the perpetrators, the Hindu population of the region had taken out rallies in which even BJP MLAs participated. Right wing lawyers had stopped the police from filing the chargesheet at the court.
After she posted the photos, hoards of right wing Hindus started threatening her online. She received rape and death threats and later morphed photos of her of obscene nature were uploaded by them. The attackers spoke in Malayalam, English and Hindi. A picture of Durga with a child was used and both she and the child with her were abused in it using sexually abusive language.
Durga filed a complaint with the cyber cell, Pattambi police station on April 16. Pattambi police station told TWJ over phone that the investigation was underway and that details could not be divulged.
The attack on social media continues unabated and the incident at night saw the violence online materialise in real life. ‘There was a loud noise at around 12 at night,’ Durga told TWJ. When they checked, they saw that the windscreen of their jeep was broken. Since the bonnet carried scratches as if hit by stone, Durga suspects someone had thrown a stone at the vehicle which landed on the bonnet and bounced on to the glass, breaking it.
‘Those people are saying that i broke the glass myself to get famous. I didn’t say anything over there but I really wanted to say that I’d rather break your head and get famous,’ Durga said in unflinching voice.
Meanwhile, a complaint has been registered against the artist by a person named Vinod from Kodumunda saying Durga hurt religious sentiments. More details are awaited on this.
Durga told TWJ that she did not intend to take back the paintings or change her stance regarding the rape and murder. ‘I survived so far. Let them exhaust themselves swearing at me,’ she said.