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lunedì 12 dicembre 2016

Kashmir Massacre: the forgotten mass rape of Kunan Poshpora

Rape victims assemble at Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Park to seek justice in 2013. (HT File Photo)


In December 2012, when the nation was rocked by the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedic in Delhi, a young Kashmiri social activist, Samreena Mushtaq, called up her friend Essar Batool and asked anxiously, “Do you remember Kunan Poshpora?”

On the night of February 23, 1991, personnel of the 4 Rajputana Rifles of the Indian Army cordoned off the two villages Kunan and Poshpora in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district during an anti-insurgency operation and gangraped at least 23 women – with some estimates placing it at around 40.
Four years after Mushtaq had asked the question, it transpired into a book on the infamous ‘mass gangrapes’, co-authored by five Kashmiri women activists, all in their mid-twenties – Mushtaq, Batool, Ifrah Butt, Munaza Rashid and Natasha Rather.

The new book “Do you remember Kunan Poshpora?” – published by Delhi-based Zubaan Publishers as a part of its eight-volume series onSexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia” – was officially released at the Jaipur Literature Festival last month.
What exactly happened that night in Kunan Poshpora remains shrouded in a narrative of conflicting inquiry findings and the case is now being heard at the Supreme Court.
Nonetheless, it remains a most unfortunate chapter in the Valley’s history, because this is only instance of allegation of “mass sexual violence” against the Indian Army.
The Army has consistently denied the accusation over the years. A Srinagar-based spokesperson of the Army said he can’t immediately comment on the case because it was “old and sensitive” and he was not aware of the details. HT has registered an official query with the Army PRO at Delhi and but did not get a reply till the report was filed.
The 228-page new book documents the case details and discusses how “rape has been used as a weapon of war and terror in Kashmir”.
We were inspired by the outrage following the Nirbhaya incident. We thought that we must not forget the allegations of rapes of Kashmiri women in the ongoing conflict,” said Batool.
The book actually stems from the five women’s instrumental effort in re-opening the Kunan Poshpora case. In March 2013, motivated by them, 50 Kashmiri women from different walks of life had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition demanding the re-opening of the case.
Although petition was rejected by the high court after three hearings, it re-started the legal battle with a series of fresh appeals that followed.
The aim behind filing the PIL was “questioning impunity” and making “the Indian Army answerable”, writes Mushtaq in the book. An inquiry report by the Army -- dated March 1991 and carried in the book -- comes to the conclusion that the charges were “mischievous and motivated” and was made to “defame the army”.
Rashid, a lawyer associated with the JKCCS who was instrumental in drafting the PIL, said, “There are many young Kashmiris who are completely ignorant about horrific incidents like Kunan Poshpora. I hope this book keeps it alive in our conversations. We shall not forget.”
The book is divided into seven chapters titled: Kunan Poshpora and Women in Kashmir, Sexual Violence and Impunity in Kashmir, That Night in Kunan Poshpora, Life in Kunan Poshpora Today, Inquires and Impunity, People Who Remember and The Recent Struggle: An Insider’s View.
The book contains records of police investigation, victims’ medical records, and civil society’s perspectives on the case.
The survivors’ accounts presented in the book recreate the gory episode with chilling details. For instance, a survivor tells the authors, “Three army men caught hold of me and 8-10 army men raped me in turns. They had huge battery torches with them and they used them to see my naked body, while making lewd remarks.”
The book also documents how women and children from the two villages are still ostracised and taunted as “people of the raped villages”.
Kunan Poshpora women continue to suffer tremendous shaming. This reflects how patriarchal Kashmiri society is,” said Rather.
The state government maintains that it is doing the best possible to help Kunan Poshpora women come out of the trauma. Chairperson of the State Commission for Women (SCW) Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor told HT, “The PDP-led government had been trying to help the women of the two villages economically, and create employment avenues.”
But it was the state itself that had obtained a stay order from the Supreme Court in March 2015 after the HC directed the victims to be compensated.
A highly placed state official whom HT asked the reasoning behind the state seeking a stay order said, “Yes, the state had obtained a stay on all orders of the high court – pertaining to the compensation and re-investigation – in the case, but I can’t reveal why.”
Wajahat Habibullah, the then divisional commissioner of Kashmir, who had conducted an inquiry into and raised doubts about the accusations, alleged in 2013 that the government had “deleted important portions of his confidential report” on the case in which he had recommended a high-level police probe.
“We need to answer why the whole thing came up. There could be two possibilities – one, the people were under pressure from militants, or number two, something actually did happen that night. So, we need a high-level inquiry to ascertain the truth – this is what I have been maintaining forever,” he told HT.
report by the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has identified more than 900 individuals whom it blames for a range of human rights abuses carried out by Indian security forces between 1990 and 2014. They include 150 officers of the rank of major or above.
Kashmir was split between India and Pakistan when the two nations gained their independence from Britain in 1947. From the late 1980s until today a brutal insurgency has pitted Indian security forces and police against Islamic militants, some backed by Pakistan, and separatists in the former princedom.
Tens of thousands have died in the conflict, mainly civilians, and both sides have committed serious human rights abuses.
The report documents the extrajudicial killings of 1,080 people and enforced disappearances of 172 people in detail as well as further cases of torture and sexual violence. It identifies 972 individual perpetrators, including hundreds of paramilitaries and auxiliaries who worked alongside military forces.

Pakistan asks trade missions to highlight ‘atrocities’ in Kashmir December 12th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq on Tuesday said using of pellets gun on Kashmiris by the Indian armed forces in Indian-held Kashmir is in violation of human rights.
He was speaking to Swedish Ambassador Ingrid Johansson who called on him at Parliament House. The United Nations and international community must play their role to stop the repression, the speaker added.
According to National Assembly Secretariat spokesman, the speaker highlighted that Pakistan is committed to fostering an enduring trade partnership with Sweden. He added that Pakistan has enabled a conducive environment for foreign investors. He said energy generation, telecommunication, oil exploration, trade and manufacturing sectors have a huge scope for foreign investment. He hoped that Swedish companies would take advantage of immense business opportunities in Pakistan.

Ayaz talks to Swedish envoy about Indian atrocities in Kashmir 14-Dec-16

Indian forces have crossed the limit of aggression and barbarism in occupied Kashmir by starting the use of chemical weapons.

Indian forces in Kashmir accused of human rights abuses cover-up Jason Burke 12 September 2015

In occupied Kashmir, the memory of the Hundwara massacre carried out by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) sends shivers down the spines of survivors even after 24 years.

According to Media sources, on January 25, 1990, two BSF patrolling parties opened indiscriminate fire upon thousands of peaceful and unarmed people, protesting against the massacre of 52 people by CRPF troopers in Maisuma locality of Srinagar four days earlier

Seventeen people were killed in the BSF firing in Handwara, the second massacre that took place after Jagmohan took charge as the Governor of occupied Kashmir to suppress mass uprising against Indian rule in the territory. “We were protesting peacefully against the Maisuma massacre, when a BSF van appeared in the town. Within no time, the LMG mounted on the van started firing indiscriminately. The foot soldiers also loaded their rifles and joined in the carnage,” recalled a survivor, Ghulam Nabi Lone

Nineteen people, he said, died on the spot after sustaining multiple bullet injuries. Six others, he said, died at the different hospitals. “The injured were countless. It was a doomsday. Everyone was running for life,” Lone said. Abdul Rasheed, another eyewitness, said that he was surprised how he survived on that day, even as he saw bodies piling up in the crowded town square. “Apart from the armoured vehicles, the BSF foot patrols at the market also opened random fire upon the protesters. Three people died in front of me, countless were injured. I wonder what stopped them from killing me,” he said. 

He said that a man, who had suffered bullet injuries, was running for his life when a group of troopers cornered him and emptied their guns on him. “He died on the spot. I was helplessly looking towards him. When I regained my senses, I ran towards my house. I bolted my house from inside and started crying like a baby,” he added. Recounting the horror, President of Traders Federation, Handwara, Shabir Ahmad said: “24 years have passed but recalling those moments send shivers down my spine. I witnessed the gory dance of death and destruction. I saw people collapsing and crying mercilessly for help,” he said. Javed Ahmad, another survivor, said that five days after the massacre, the locals visited the police station and filed a case against the BSF troopers. “Police had then assured us that the killers would be taken to task but nothing has been done

Handwara Massacre Still in Memory of Survivors January 27, 2014 KASHMIR VOICE

The Gawkadal massacre was named after the Gawkadal bridge in SrinagarKashmir, where, on 20 January 1990, the Indian paramilitary troops of the Central Reserve Police Force opened fire on a group of Kashmiri protesters in what has been described by some authors as "the worst massacre in Kashmiri history", along with the Bijbehara Massacre in 1993.[1] At least 50 people were killed[2] (according to survivors, the actual death toll may have been as high as 280[3]) The massacre happened just a day after the Government of India appointed Jagmohan as the Governor for a second time in a bid to control the mass protests by Kashmiris.[2]


Sopore Massacre refers to the killing of 55 Kashmiri civilian protesters by the Indian Border Security Force(BSF) after militants ambushed a BSF patrol,[1] in the town of Sopore in Kashmir on 6 January 1993.[2]


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