Sun. Mar 7th, 2021

30 years on, Kashmir mass rape survivors still await justice


Islamabad – Staff Reporter:

The Foreign Office said on Tuesday the horrific incident of a mass rape of Kashmiri women in Kunan and Poshpora villages of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) on February 23, 1991 continues to remain a scar on collective memory of the international community.

Thirty years ago, Kunan and Poshpora, twin villages located in Kashmir’s border district of Kupwara, were victims of mass rapes perpetrated by the Indian armed forces. On the cold night of February 23, 1991, deep in the Valley, armed personnel of the 4th Rajputana Rifles raped at least 40 women in the quiet hamlets and 29 years on, their fight for justice waits in the pages of the Supreme Court’s registry.

As per the human rights activist, Khurram Parvez, it is natural of the police to take suo moto cognizance of such cases and file an FIR (first information report) themselves, even if citizens have not filed anything. Far from taking suo moto cognizance, the J&K police were doing their best to prevent the filing of an FIR.

Only after a protest led by the villagers in 1991, they were compelled to create the document they had been avoiding. However, since the FIR was filed in 1991, the police have done nothing about it and no investigation has been carried out.

“It was only then the victims and the villagers went to the SHRC in 2005,” Parvez underlined.

In 2013, when Rather and her team of 50 took the case to the High Court, they had to produce justifications for wishing to reopen a case of mass rape from 1991. “We fought to get our petition filed in the High Court. Currently, the case lies in the Kupwara District Court, the High Court and in the registry of the Supreme Court.”

“Lack of accountability of perpetrators and absence of justice for victims continue to define India’s deliberate disregard for rule of law and human rights,” spokesperson Zahid Hafiz Chaudhri said in a statement.

He pointed out India has employed rape, torture, degrading treatment and killings of Kashmiri women as instruments of state terrorism in the occupied territory. These state sanctioned heinous crimes have further intensified since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019, he said.

“The incidents of systematic violence and mass rapes in IIOJK have been documented by a number of independent Commissions, human rights organzations, global media and civil society organizations, including the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),” the statement read.

“This day should serve as a solemn reminder to the international community of the need to address the systematic violence against women in IIOJK.”