Acknowledging Kunan-Poshpora

The Government of India is unnerved by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s decision on compensation for Kunan Poshpora rape survivors. Though there can be no “compensation” for rape, the HC order is an acknowledgement of the crime committed by men in uniform who stormed the hamlet during the night intervening February 22 and 23, 1991. The Union of India has decided to challenge the High Court order in the Supreme Court. In its objections, the Union of India has said that “the grant of compensation at this stage would implicitly imply that the state government also approves of the findings of the State human Rights Commission (SHRC) blaming the Army personnel.”  In the process of defending erring army personnel, the Union of India has committed yet another act of sacrilege. It has accused the survivors of being greedy for compensation.

The latter have made it clear time and again that all they demand was justice Though approached by some unscrupulous elements on behalf of the state government and the Union of India promising large sums for not pursuing the case, the survivors and their families have stood firm, rejected the offers, and continued their fight. The slanderous statement against them, therefore, must be withdrawn forthwith.

The Union of India has also labeled 50 women activists/petitioners who filed the PIL in 2013 as mala fide and suspicious who “deserve to be taken note of by the court.”  The court, for the information of the UOI, has already taken note of the petitioners and ordered compensation. The brave effort of the women petitioners has not gone in vain, and they deserve kudos for it.

The struggle of the Kunan Poshpora survivors is not about compensation, but about justice and accountability. In court hearings so far, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has tried to malign them by creating an impression that they were after money, a tactic ultimately to strengthen the cover-up.  Their judicial struggle has so far helped in exposing the contradictions of the Jammu and Kashmir Government, and also depicted how structures of impunity operate. The Indian State’s proclamations internationally on mechanisms of justice in the state have been delivered another blow.