SRINAGAR: Twenty victim families whose relatives have been subjected to custodial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture by the Indian forces in the Kashmir Valley met on Tuesday to appeal world citizens to push India for justice after their efforts to get justice in the Indian democratic system failed.
In the group, among other members, are the two victims of Kunan-Poshpora mass rape, survivors of Sailan, Saderkoot, Pathribal massacre, enforced disappearance and father of Tufail Matoo. All have fought against crimes perpetuated by the state forces either in courts or human rights commissions, or held peaceful protests, but not of any avail.
In Kunan-Poshpora, between 1991, the year 40 women 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 Valley, 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. But justice is still at large.
Seventeen years later when Sadarkoot massacre, in which 7 civilians were killed, police said that three of the six perpetrators have died in accidents while rest are absconding. The police have informed the court despite the former has indicted the six Ikhwanis (government funded militias) more a decade ago. Here justice still at large.
Against this unproductive battle for justice, survivors of truth and justice, the group of the victims, had decided to apprise conscientious citizens ‘about a state that has used every tactic to silence’ them . Now, they believe, ‘protests in parks, cases in SHRC and courts including the apex court of India, have left them dispirited and exhausted’ and only world citizens can get them justice.
The group as of now has 28 victim families; most of them have fought against the state in courts, some in human rights commissions while many have done nothing because of fear of the government forces.
Among the fearful is Qalander Khatana, the victim himself. Twenty- five-years ago, Khatana told Kashmir Reader, that he was taken in the middle of a night by a group of Indian army from his home at Kothiya in Kupwara, nearly 90-km-away from the capital Srinagar, and released him four years later.
“First I was taken to local camps where I was tortured. A week later, I was taken to Papa 2, the then torture centre and now the residence of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti,” recalled Khatana. “Here for many days, my skin was torn into pieces which were forcibly fed into my stomach. Then one day, a group of men cut my feet with a dragger. I immediately fell unconscious, and when I regained my senses, I found my feet were bandaged by the torn out pieces of my shirt. Instead to taking me to the hospital, I was rushed to Kot Bilwal jail where I was kept for four years.”
After his release, Khatana begged for nearly 10 years until some philanthropists supported him financially to support his five member family. Unable to walk, Khatan hired, two men a day, who used to take him to different mosque where he was crowd funded. Half of the collected money, he had to share with the two men, who ferried him on their shoulders.
Khatana, who survives with amputated finger tips and on prosthetic limbs, has resigned to his fate. Despite this struggle, Khatana has never thought to go court, the group has now come as hope for him to fight the injustice.
“I would hardly live for many years now but I want to leave behind something that will make be believe that I have fought against the injustice. I was punished for helping rebels enter Pakistan for arms training an act I never did. There would be many others like me,” he said.
Mohammad Ashraf, the father of Tufail Matoo who was killed in 2010, triggering a three month long anti-India uprising, told Kashmir Reader that means available in the world for justice would not be spared to get justice.
“My world was over the day my son was martyred, so is about the families whose kith and kin were subjected to brute force of the state. We did not get justice, so what, we will exhaust all means to get perpetrators of our beloved one killed,” he said.