Srinagar, June 22: Reiterating their resolve to fight for justice in the 22-year-old case, the rape victims of Kunan Poshpora Saturday alleged ‘perpetual harassment’ at the hands of security and intelligenceagencies for recording their statements before the human rights organizations and civil society groups.
“Although we are going through perpetual harassment at the hands of various security agencies even after 22 years for speaking to human rights organizations and civil society groups about our ordeal, we would continue our fight for justice and will knock every possible door for it,” said a group of rape victims while addressing the media.On February 23, 1991 army soldiers are alleged to have raped around 40 women after they cordoned off the Kunan-Poshpora villages in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district and launched a house-to-house search for militants. According to the villagers the troops ordered menfolk out of their homes and then raped the hapless women.Stating that the villages are being “socially stigmatized”, the victims refused any sort of compensation from any agency and urged people to support them in their fight for justice.“On that fateful night the army men entered our homes and asked all male members to assemble in a local ground. In the chilling night we remained outside till dawn and on our return in the morning we found our women unconscious, stripped and raped,” said Muhammad Amin.
“After the incident, the army men used various tactics to scuttle our voice. We were interrogated. They dipped our heads in buckets of chilly water, forced to remain naked in bone chilling cold during winter and brutally beaten. But no one could hear our cries those days.” Amin said as many as 40 women were raped during that fateful night. The Chief Judicial Magistrate Kupwara, J. A. Geelani ordered reopening of Kunan Poshpora mass rape case last Tuesday. The CJM dismissed closure report of Jammu and Kashmir police in the case, asked police to “further investigate to unravel the identity of those who happen to be perpetrators.”Parveez Imroz of Coalition of Civil Society said that the court ordered fresh inquiry into the incident after 50 girls, all in twenties, filed a petition before the court in March this year.“The rape incident in New Delhi December last shook the world and inspired some girls in Srinagar to file a fresh petition in the court for re-investigation into the case,” he said, adding that after exhausting all the options at domestic level, the case can be pleaded before international community.A Press Council of India committee led by BG Verghese had visited valley after the incident and had given a “clean chit to the soldiers”.
The Kunan Poshpora villagers rejected the report stating that Verghese had prepared it at Army headquarters in Baramulla and that never visited the villages himself. “Verghese has filed petition in Gujarat court in favour of Muslims, but I wonder how he prepared the report of rape victims of Kunan Poshpora,” said Imroz.He criticized the state law minister for accusing rape victims of opening the case just to seek compensation from SHRC. “It was shameful and insulting statement from him.”Ifra, one of the fifty girls who had filed the petition, pledged to continue their support to the rape victims. “Medical tests were conducted and in 32 cases rape was confirmed. The statements of victims were also recorded and the clothes and other articles were seized as evidence. Why there was again need to order fresh inquiry?” said Ali Muhammad, a resident of Kunan-Poshpora. “The aim of our fight is to stop repression and injustice with the people of Kashmir and to make sure that no such incident takes place in future.”