From Kunan-Poshpora ‘silence’ to Delhi clamour
Srinagar, Dec 20: The outrage over Delhi gang rape has prompted many Kashmiris to compare the present public fury in India to the “criminal silence” over Kunan Poshpora (Kupwara) mass rape incident of 1991 and other similar cases in the valley.
“The Kunan Poshpora mass rape case has been buried like thousands of other cases of rights abuse by men in uniform in Kashmir. There are many more such incidents of rape and molestation, but everybody maintained criminal silence over the issue,” a post by a Kashmiri student on Facebook reads.
The facebook users expressed surprise that while the entire India is demanding execution of Delhi rapists, “the troopers involved in Kunan Poshpora incident are protected by the system”.
“If Delhi had been Kashmir and rapists had been in uniform, what would Indian media and people say about the sacred Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which grants impunity to Indian army and paramilitary men even for committing rapes and cold blooded murders,” reads a post of S. Khan.
“Raping without license (AFSPA) is a heinous crime,” it adds.
Another post questioned the “double standards” of Government of India over rapes committed in Kashmir and elsewhere.
“Hue and cry throughout India over gang rape of a Delhi girl, rightly so….what about rape victims of Kashmir. Are Kashmiri women less important or morale of forces more important? Why these double standards,” the post reads.
“Yes, a rape is a rape, be it in Kashmir or elsewhere,” it adds.
Micro-blogging site Twitter has been abuzz with similar reactions.
Mocking at the media’s double standards on the rape issue, Ibnebattuta writes, “All channels talking about rape, but none talking about rapes by armed forces. Shameless nationalism at work, convenient outrage.”
“Dear Delhi, we understand your outrage. But please be fair in asking justice for every victim, rape by individuals or rape by state. Rape is rape, a crime against humanity. Need justice wherever they occur; in Delhi, North East, Kashmir or other places,” Ibnebattuta adds.
The tweet also lashes out at ruling National Conference stating “the same NC in power botched up Shopian rape and won’t reinvestigate Kunan Poshpora”.
Another facebook post said, “The whole nation is outraged and asking plenty of serious questions on the police system, judiciary, law, democracy, governance etc, but the whole nation maintains a nationalist and patriotic silence on discovery of mass graves in Kashmir, mass rape in Kunan-poshpora, custodial disappearances, fake encounters and other acts of brutality in Kashmir.”
“Meanwhile, can’t they have RSA [Rape Safety Act] on the lines of PSA [Public Safety Act] to prevent rapes and punish rapists by denying them anticipatory bail and lock them up for at least two years without trial, and then the punishment given according to the law,” the post adds.
Meanwhile, some facebook users called for organizing protests for justice to the rape victims of Kashmir including those of Kunan Poshpura, (Chak Saidapora) Shopian and other incidents “mostly involving men-in-uniform”.
“Right now Delhi seems boiling about the recent gang rape of a girl, perhaps now they realize the gravity of the crime….!! It seems high time for Kashmiris residing in Delhi to organize parallel protest against mass rapes by Indian soldiers and their political pimps in Kashmir. We can especially invite people from areas victimized Punjab, Manipur, Nagaland, Dalit’s etc. Kindly share the information and help in organizing. And help common Indian to see real face of Indian state,” a post by Shahid Khan reads.
Former Chief Justice, Mufti Baha-ud-Din Farooqi had put the number of women gang raped in Kunan Poshpora village of Kupwara at 53. However, some human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch have reported that the number of raped women could be much higher.
Similar incident was reported on October 10, 1992 in village Chak Saidapora in Shopian district, again involving an army unit.
A local human rights body, Coalition of Civil Society, claims that more than 300 rapes have been officially registered in Kashmir.
“There have been thousands of rape case incidents in Kashmir. But when the state apparatus saved the guilty, very few reported it to the authorities. And the second thing was that the authorities ask the victims to prove that they were raped. It also discourages them to report to offcials,” said Coordinator, CCS, Khuram Parvez.
In the case of Delhi gang rape, he said Indian civil society and media has helped mobilize people to such an extent that they have come on roads and are demanding hanging of rapists.
“We have hundreds of such cases. But army and paramilitary forces were not prosecuted due to AFPSA. The Indian media and civil society have never spoken against the troopers involved in rapes. They have always maintained the nationalists’ side and accused rape victims of maligning the troops.”
Parvez said in Kunan Poshpora and Shopian cases, victims were asked to prove that they were raped by troops both by media and officials.
“In Delhi, no such things have happened. We condemn the rape incident in Delhi. Culprits should be punished. At the same time why to remain silent when it comes to Kashmir. Why the accused rapists army, paramilitary and policemen are awarded. This year a police officer was awarded presidential award even when he was involved in raping a women.”
He said it was not only the accused who are to be blamed, “the entire government structure which protects and awards the guilty is equally responsible for the crime”.
Parvez said SHRC too has asked for re-opening of Kunan Poshpura mass rape case, but the government has been reluctant to do so.