Rape as a weapon of war in IOK
dr Muhammad Khan
INDIAN security forces have been using rape as a weapon against the Kashmiri women for decades. According to independent and unbiased sources, there have been 500-600 individual rape cases in the Indian occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir per year. Most of these cases are not reported in media and police/court, mainly owing to the social reasons. The raped women and their families cannot afford this social stigma, despite the fact that, these incidents are forced upon and most of the time, rape is committed on gun point by the occupation forces, who have total impunity. In fact, through discriminatory laws, imposed in IOK, Indian security forces have total impunity to do anything against the innocent people of Kashmir.
The Armed Forces Special Power Act and the Public Safety Act, provide total freedom of action against any one in IOK by Indian Army and paramilitary forces. Since Indian Army has power and authority to do anything against poor people of Kashmir, during raids and house searching operations in IOK, they take out men for interrogation and then rape women folk at gunpoint. According to Kashmir Media Service and Kashmir Liberation cell, there are 10828 reported rape cases in IOK at hands of Indian Army and Central Reserve Police from 1990 to 2016.
During the time active Kashmiri resistance in IOK, rape has been a frequent phenomenon by Indian Army in particular. The worst case on the record of Human rights organization was the gang rape of over 100 women in two villages of the Kupwara district; Kunan and Poshpora. These two villages are adjacent and now given a joint name; Kunan Poshpora. The brutal men of Indian Army (Rajputana Regiment) criminally assaulted these villages on the darkness of night on February 23, 1991. Women of all ages; from 9 years to 80 years women were raped by Indian Army men on that night.
According to the detail accounts, later collected by the human rights organizations, “at Kunan Poshpora women of all ages; elderly women, young girls and pregnant women were raped, while men were taken out to interrogation centres.” Despite the demands from human rights groups, no action was taken by Indian Army against the Army men, committed in this worst act of violence against humanity in IOK. Since Kashmiri have not forgotten this worst incident against their women folk, therefore, they have been demanding proper judicial inquiry to apportion the blame on those, who committed heinous human crime.
‘In 2013, Samreena Mushtaq, who had documented sexual violence cases for the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), along with other activists petitioned the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to reopen the case and a magistrate ordered a new investigation.’ It created a hope that, there will be some sort of investigation, but, this did not happen. Under the extreme pressure of Indian Army in 2015, Indian Supreme Court, ordered the High Court of IOK to close the case. Closure of this judicial inquiry is another crime at the hand of Highest Indian court, so, the people of IOK lost all hopes for justice. The brave women of IOK, did not stop and finally recoded the entire account of the incident of February 23, 1991, the gang rape of Kunan Poshpora. Samreena Mushtaq and her four colleagues, women activists have published a booklet entitled as, “Do you remember KunanPoshpora?”. This book is indeed an account of the Indian army’s Character and crime, which Indian forces are committing against innocent Kashmiris, particularly against the women folk.
There is need that Rape cases and human rights violations by Indian Army should be taken with International Criminal Court and UN. In this regard the Kashmiri women and particularly the affected families should take the lead role. The Government of Pakistan must endeavour to present such cases on all diplomatic forums. The mainstream Pakistani media, the social media and intellectuals must play their active role in this regard.