HC asks Home Dept to explore possibility of granting relief to Kunan Poshpora victims

‘State must accept constitutional responsibility’

High court has directed Home Department to explore possibilities of granting relief to rape victims of Kunan-Poshpora as per the recommendations of State Human Rights Commission (SHRC).
The government had rejected SHRC recommendations claiming that survivors of Kunan-Poshpora gang rape were not entitled to compensation since there was no ex–gratia or compensation scheme in existence for rape victims in 1991.
A division bench of Chief justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Masoodi observed that the victims are entitled to compensation as they had suffered atrocities at the hands of certain crime perpetrators.
The court observed that a relevant clause in this regard was already inserted in rules in 1989.
“Unfortunately it took 24 years for the government to frame the rules regarding compensation to victim of crime including rape,” it said adding State must accept constitutional responsibility.
SHRC had in 2013 recommended providing compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to rape victims of Kunan-Poshpora besides re-investigation of the case.
During the proceeding, counsel for the petitioners, Parvez Imroz complained before the court that SSP Kupwara, who has been assigned to re-investigate the case, instead of carrying the investigation, is seeking extensions repeatedly and not completing the investigation.
On this court asked government to file a status report regarding the re-investigation of the case.
Additional Advocate General (AAG) submitted before the court that the government has submitted a revision petition before Sessions Court, Kupwara against the direction passed by Judicial Magistrate regarding re-investigation of the case.
However, Court observed that investigation has not been stayed.
“So there is no reason for delay in investigation,” court observed.
The bench asked the state to file status report with regard to compensation to victims and re-investigation of the case within three weeks.
Over 40 women were gang raped in Kunan and Poshpora, twin villages of Kupwara, during the intervening night of February 23 and 24,  1991 allegedly by 4 Raj Rifles personnel of 68 Brigade.
After the incident, police had lodged an FIR under section 376, 452 and 342 at police station Trehgam against the Army.
The locals, civil society members, separatist and religious groups have been demanding re-opening of the case and punishment to the guilty.
In 2011, SHRC had asked the government to reopen Kunan-Poshpora mass rape case while judicial Magistrate Kupwara ordered re-investigation of the case with an officer not below the rank of SP the investigating officer.
SHRC had also asked the government to prosecute the then Director Prosecution, who had sought closure of the case as the perpetrators were “untraceable”.
“The then Director Prosecution had overstepped his brief and prosecution proceedings should be initiated against him and those officers, who had approved his report,” SHRC bench had recommended.

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