Why Has a Cartoon Posted by Former Kathua Lawyer Deepika Rajawat on the Plight of Indian Women Offended Twitter?

Gender

Why Has a Cartoon Posted by Former Kathua Lawyer Deepika Rajawat on the Plight of Indian Women Offended Twitter?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

It’s only been a few days since the Tanishq ad controversy died down, and already social media trolls have found another post offensive to their religion. The offender in this case is Deepika Sigh Rajawat, a senior lawyer from J&K, who shared a cartoon commenting on how women are treated before and after Navarati in our country, only to be greeted with a hashtag calling for her arrest soon after.

“Irony,” the lawyer had tweeted, sharing side-by-side images of a man respectfully touching a woman’s feet during Navratri, but holding them in a threatening and compromising position for the rest of the year. The message the lawyer was trying to send — the horrific plight of being a woman in this country — was lost on many. However, she was soon accused of insulting Hindu Gods, Goddesses, and festivals.

This vocal section of social media also went on to share a post the lawyer had put up during Eid — a photo of her dessert — to claim that she was selectively targeting only Hindus with her post. This led to a flood of comments, including from members of political parties.

But Rajawat is no stranger to online threats. Years ago, a few will remember her as the lawyer who represented the family of the eight-year-old girl who was raped and killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua. The case had drawn international outrage after the police indicated that the disgusting act was an attempt to remove the nomadic minority from Kathua. Unfortunately, it had also led to several rushing to the accused’s defence.

The fact that Rajawat was still willing to fight the case did not bode well for her image, as she was soon subject to dozens of threats a day — many of which called for her death. Following the immense security risk this created, Rajawat had appealed that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir and tried in Pathankot.

In November 2018, however, Rajawat was suddenly removed from the case by the girl’s family, despite her support to the family, on the grounds that she had only appeared in court for two hearings. Rajawat responded to her termination by saying it was tough for her to physically appear in the Pathankot court for the over 100 hearings that were held in the case, since she was looking after her young daughter at the time.

She went on to insist that the trial was being fought by a battery of senior lawyers, and extended her support to the family once again. However, the fallout of her termination ensured she would gain online notoriety, and be disparaged as a “celebrity lawyer”. So as the calls for her arrest grow, one can’t help but wonder if the Navaratri post was the only reason social media users are suddenly calling her out.

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