SRINAGAR: ‘Do You Remember Kunan-Poshpora’, a comprehensive book documenting the gang rape of at least 34 women by Indian Army in Kunan and Poshpora villages of Kupwara in 1991 was released in Srinagar today. The book has been written by five young women who were inspired to do so by the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old paramedic in Delhi in December 2012.
On the night of February 23, 1991, personnel of the 4 Rajputana Rifles of the Indian Army cordoned off the two villages Kunan and Poshpora in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district during an anti-militancy operation and allegedly gang raped at least 34 women.
Authors of the book have relentlessly passed through various stages to ink down the book. In what has been termed as travesty of justice, a delegation led by a senior journalist, B G Verghese which was sent to investigate the incident, cleared the soldiers of the charges. The State Human Rights Commission had recommended a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the victims and action against the officials who had closed the case in 1991.
In 2013, a group of 50 women, including the five authors, filed a fresh petition in the high court seeking reopening of the mass rape case. The petition was rejected by the high court after three hearings.
The 228-page documents the case details and discusses how rape has been used as a weapon of war and terror in Kashmir. The book is divided into seven chapters titled: Kunan Poshpora and Women in Kashmir, Sexual Violence and Impunity in Kashmir, That Night in Kunan Poshpora, Life in Kunan Poshpora Today, Inquires and Impunity, People Who Remember and The Recent Struggle: An Insider’s View. The book contains records of police investigation, victims’ medical records, and civil society’s perspectives on the case.
The first chapter documents the story of the authors and their motivation for writing the book. Chapter two documents how the state has used rape as a weapon of war. The third chapter gives the details of the case. The fourth chapter throws light on how the rape survivors are living with the realities of life. The fifth talks about the cover-ups and distortions by the state and the sixth chapter comprises how a journalist, local residents and some other people remember the incident.
The seventh chapter is based on the legal history of the case after the 2013 PIL.
The authors-three social workers, one student and a lawyer-said that the hardest part of their was to convince victim families about the endeavor and remove the sense of victimhood of the rape survivors.
Speaking on the occasion, Essar Batool, one of the authors said that in Kashmir valley, India has used rape as a weapon of war and to silence the victims as a tool to commit the heinous crime again and again.
“We had a fear of not speaking about the heinous crime. The fear was obvious because we had to document the crimes of the powerful state. But after a careful thought we realized that not speaking against the crime is more sinful than the crime itself. The fear became a force to defeat the fear,” Batool said.
The book, published by Zubaan publications, was earlier released at Jaipur literary festival where it became a topic of discussion.
Natasha Rather, another author, said that even in present time talking about rape is a stigma but the survivors have fought it repeatedly during the last two decades.