Kunan-Poshpora: 26 years later, victims await justice

Kunan-Poshpora: 26 years later, victims await justice
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Govt denies Support Group permission to organise programme where victims were scheduled to speak
SRINAGAR: Between 1991, the year 40 women in twin villages of Kunan-Poshpora were raped by a group of Indian Army, and 2017, when the incident completed 26 years, the victims still await justice despite an investigation, multiple inquires and courts proceedings.
According to Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, the group documenting and pursuing human right cases in the alley, a police investigation indicating the mass rape of 33 women was conducted into the incident. A local court and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) had ordered investigations into the incident.
“The 26 year struggle has only been a struggle for us. No institution of state which we approached could deliver justice,” Ghulam Ahmad, a resident of Kunan-Poshpora told reporters on Thursday.
“During these years, six witnesses have already died and most of those who survive are old now. We don’t see justice being done to us. But we have not lost hope in the Allah, we will fight till we are alive irrespective of the nature of court rulings,” he said.
For the first time in 2004, the victims had filed a petition with SHRC demanding fresh investigation and compensation. Seven years later, SHRC recommended compensation of Rs 2 lakh to each victim and an investigation into their allegations.
In 2013, when the investigation recommended by the SHRC was not carried out, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by 50 subjects of the state—called the Support Group— in the high court, demanding implementation of the SHRC recommendations.
“In its response, police said that they have filed their investigation report in March 2013 in Kupwara, almost 22 years after the incident had taken place. The Kupwara court ordered investigation which was again challenged by the army,” a group member said.
“Now at present there are five petitions pending before the High Court and the Supreme Court. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has challenged the high court orders directing them to pay compensation. The Union of India has challenged the investigations, compensation and the SHRC decision,” the group member said.
Before the case landed in the courts, a delegation led by journalist late BG Verghese, which was sent to investigate into the incident, cleared the soldiers of the charges.
A confidential report filed by then divisional commissioner Wajahat Habibullah stated that “it is impossible to believe that officers of a force such as the Indian Army would lead their men into a village with the sole aim of violating its women. Even if it were possible to concede this and the army was indeed such a brutal force, it would then be impossible to explain why the officers themselves did not participate in such an orgy.”
On Wednesday, the state government denied the Support Group the permission to organise a program, where some of the victims were scheduled to talk.

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