Survivors of 1991 Kashmir mass rape case assert struggle for justice
A court in Kupwara district, Kashmir on Tuesday ordered the re-opening of the infamous Kunan Poshpora mass rape case, allegedly committed by Indian military personnel during a cordon and search operation in the Kunan Poshpora village on February 23, 1991. Despite the case gaining international attention and sparking condemnation by human rights bodies like Amnesty and HRW, the Indian government had officially been in a state of denial as regards the incident. In the wake of this court order, an event titled “Kunan-Poshpora mass rape and torture: Case reopening and future struggle for justice” was organized by Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society on Saturday in Srinagar in which the rape survivors and their relatives spoke to the public, asserting their struggle for justice.
In the brutal incident at Kunan Poshpora village over 2 decades back, military personnel from the Rajputana Rifles entered the village on the night of 23 February during a cordon and search counterinsurgency operation.
After forcing the Kashmiri men out of their homes at gun point, the Indian military personnel proceeded to sexually assault the women.
Despite the case being heavily condemned by various local and global human rights organizations, the Indian government till now has taken no action whatsoever to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Following the recent Kupwara court order to re-open the case, the event in Srinagar saw the participation of the rape survivors and their relatives, who narrated the terrible violence that they endured, the failure of the Indian justice system to address their grievances and their struggle to get the perpetrators of the mass crime punished.
The news site Kashmirlife.net, citing relatives of the victims, said that allegedly over a hundred women were assaulted in the village and that the victims “were gang-raped without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnancy etc.” adding that “The victims were ranged in age from 13 to 80.”
GreaterKashmir.com reported, quoting one of the rape survivors, “When a girl was gang-raped in Delhi whole country rose against it. But in our case there was total silence. We don’t want any women to suffer like us. We don’t want money or jobs but justice. We were raped but through our struggle we will expose and dishonor the accused. It is our last wish to get the accused punished.”
India has not recognized the crimes committed by its army during the IPKF occupation of the Eezahm Tamils’ homeland from 1987-90.
The IPKF massacres, including accounts of rape, documented by the NESoHR were brought out in a publication, “In the Name of Peace: IPKF Massacres of Tamils in Sri Lanka”, by Delhi Tamil Students Union in April 2011.
“During the 3 years when the IPKF occupied Tamil Eelam, it earned the dubious name of ‘Indian People Killing Force’ and was accused of violent sexual crimes against women, with the age of the victims being no bar. The Indian army has been occupying Kashmir for more than 30 years. One can imagine what horrors it must have subjected the people to,” a Tamil Nadu activist engaged in solidarity work among oppressed nations told TamilNet.
The activist further said that the increased interaction between the Indian army and the Sinhala army, the latter having perfected using rape as a weapon of genocide, must be looked on with serious concern by activists across India.