By Javid Ali/Mushtaq Ahmad
Srinagar/Kupwara: Justice for Kunan Poshpora gang rape victims was a common thread in scores of programmes held on Tuesday across Kashmir Valley on the 25th anniversary of the infamous incident perpetrated by the Indian army in a remote Kupwara hamlet.
Some of the victims and their families held a demonstration in Kunan village while people expressed solidarity with the victims and demanded justice at several programmes in capital Srinagar and Baramulla.
Activists of Hurriyat Conference (M), Muslim Conference, Young Men’s League and several human rights groups organized a protest demonstration to show solidarity with the mass rape victims.
The pro-freedom activists said that a section of Indian civil society members , politicians and human rights activists strongly protested against the Damni rape and murder case in Delhi but adopted criminal and continuous silence over Kunan Poshpora rape case.
The activists held a protest demonstration near Hurriyat’s Rajbagh headquarters carrying placards and chating slogans.
The protesters included Muslim Conference Chairman Shabir Ahmed Dar, International Forum for Justice Chairman Mohammad Ahsan Untoo and Young Men’s League Chairman Imtiyaz Reshi besides Abdul Majid Banday, Shahid-ul-Islam, Ghulam Nabi Zaki, Engineer Hilal Ahmad War, Mushtaq Ahmad Sofi, Abdul Rashid Untoo and a battery of women activists.
Sit-in held in Poshpora
Residents of Poshpora village in north Kashmir district of Kupwara staged a silent protest on Tuesday against government’s failure to seek justice for the victims of the infamous Kunan-Poshpora mass rape committed by soldiers 25 years ago.
The protesters, women and children among them, carrying posters and placards held a sit-in at the Poshpora market for many hours and later dispersed peacefully.
Irfan Ahmad, a local resident who was part of the protest, said that one of his close relatives was raped by at least nine army personnel during the intervening night of 22, 23 November 1991, when the army surrounded the village.
He said the women who were raped on that fateful night do not want any monetary compensation but strict action against the soldiers who committed the crime.
Narrating the incident, Saleema, one of the witnesses, said that about 9 pm, soldiers of 4 Rajputana Rifles cordoned off the village and asked all men to assemble in the ground of the government middle school.
“Even minor boys were ordered to go outside the village in the open fields for identification parade. Once men were herded out of the village, about 150 army men barged into the houses and raped more than 55 women including old and pregnant women and minor girls. These crimes were committed between 11pm and 2am and the men had no idea of what was happening,” she said.
She adds, “I took shelter inside a bathroom but could see more than three army men raped each women in the area and victims were crying for help. Nobody was there to rescue them. Four army men raped one of my close relative in a room but I could do nothing.”
Showkat Ahmed, a resident of the Poshpora village told Kashmir Reader that when the men returned to the village, they saw women crying. It took them no time to understand what had befallen their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters.
He said that on 25 February, the entire village, along with the victims, reached the police station Trehgam and lodged a complaint against the soldiers.
The case was registered under section 376,452,342 RPC against the army unit. But 25 years down the line, none of the soldiers have been arrested.
At least six of the victims passed away during these years.
(Some of the names in the story have been changed)