1991: Mass Rape in Kunan-Poshpora , Victims recount horror, demand justice

It was on the intervening night of 23/24 February 1991 at Kunan-Poshpora  village in  Kupwara, when Indian armys 4-Rajput Rifles and 68-Moutain Brigade gang raped dozens of women of Kunan Poshpora and the men from the area were subject to mass torture and this process was still not stoped in Jammu and Kashmir.
Victims and the people of Kashmir demand is reopening and ndependent investigation of the mass rape cases of Jammu and Kashmir including Kunan Poshpora by the United Nations War Crime Tribunal. People know  that Indian army is using its special and unlimited powers to provide a safe passage to these criminals of humanity. 
It was at around 11 p.m. on February 23, 1991, Indian troops of 4 Rajputana Rifles  during seige and search operations around Kunan Poshpora gang-raped a large number of women in a terror spree lasting till 9 o’clock the next morning. Local villagers said that up to 32 women “were gang-raped without any consideration of their age, marital status or pregnancy.”
The victims ranged in age from 13 to 60. The village headman and other leaders have said that they reported the rapes to army officers on February 27. 
According to the old woman of the village, around 10 to 15 soldiers entered every home in the village. “They would gag women to prevent them from raising hue and cry. We were not able to make much noise,” she says. There must have been around 1,000 soldiers in the village that night, she recalls.  When interviewed in 1991, villagers said about 100 women had been molested. “They left the very small girls untouched,” she adds. “Besides them, no one was spared.”
The women were systematically assaulted and gang-raped, regardless of marital status, pregnancy, or age.
The next day at 10:00 am, the deputy commander of the Indian soldiers came to the village. “He told the women that the army has not done anything wrong.”Furious, this elderly lady pulled her friend, who was also abused that night, out of her home to stand in front of the army commander. “I told him that she is an 80-year-old lady, but even she was not spared by his men.”
“He didn’t say a word. He stood speechless,” she recalls. “He just looked down.”
Twenty years have passed since that night, but justice has yet to be achieved for the rape victims of Kunan-Poshpora. Up until now, nobody in the village has been willing to talk. Silence about that night, a collective gesture from the villagers, greets you like a wall. But behind this silence lie tragic stories.
On April 7, 1991, the New York Times reported the Kunan-Poshpora rape incident under the headline, “India Moves Against Kashmir Rebels.” According to the report, on March 5, 1991, villagers complained about the incident to the then-Kupwara District Magistrate, S.M Yasin, who visited the village two days later to investigate. “According to a report filed by Yasin,” the article reads, “the armed forces behaved like violent beasts.” He identified them as members of 4th Rajputana Rifles and said they rampaged through the village from 11:00 pm on Feb 23 until 9:00 am the next morning.
On March 5, villagers complained to Kupwara District Magistrate S.M. Yasin, who visited the village on March 7 to investigate. In his final report, he stated that the troopers behaved like wild beasts and described the attack as follows: “A large number of armed personnel entered into the houses of villagers and at gunpoint they gang-raped 23 ladies, without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnancy etc… there was a hue and cry in the whole village.”
On March 17, Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi, a former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, led a fact-finding mission to Kunan Poshpora. In the course of his investigation, he interviewed 53 women who confirmed to have been raped by the Indian troops, and tried to determine why a police investigation into the incident had never taken place. According to his report, villagers said that a police investigation into the event had never commenced because the officer assigned to the case, Assistant Superintendent of Police Dilbaugh Singh, was on leave. Farooqi later stated that in his 43 years on the bench he had never seen a case in which normal investigative procedures were ignored as they were in this one. Just a few months later, in July 1991, Dilbaugh Singh was transferred to another station without ever having started the investigation.
On March 18, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Wajahat Habibullah visited the village, and filed a confidential report, parts of which were later released to the public. He concluded: “While the veracity of the complaint is highly doubtful, it still needs to be determined why such complaint was made at all.”
During the past 22 years of turmoil the gross human rights violations in Kashmir Valley went on spiraling as the paramilitary forces, interested with the job of fighting counter insurgency, indulged in letting loose their aggression upon the beleaguered Kashmiris caught between two guns. In the frontier district of Kupwara, the Kunan Poshpora mass rape incident is believed to be the most gross human rights violation during the ever growing phase of violence and blood shed. As the years have passed by, the human rights violation cases in Kashmir valley have increased drawing the attention and criticisms of people, however, unfortunately, it seems the government has never been serious enough in punishing the guilty and putting a check on atrocities. 
On 22 Feb, 2014 in Kupwara on 23RD ANNIVERSARY OF KUNAN-POSHPORA MASS RAPE as Kashmir commemorates, justice continues to elude victims of the incident.  On the night intervening February 23 and 23 in 1991, the locals said that troopers had barged into the village and gang-raped 53 women there.
  Despite passing of 23 years, the horrific memories of the incident are still afresh in minds of the victims. “The memories of the horrific incident that shattered our life continues to haunt us,” said a group of the victims. "Ironically, the accused troopers are yet to be punished despite evidence against them,” they said. 
 On marking the anniversary of the incident as ‘Kashmiri Women's Résistance Day, the victims said "it is a good opportunity to raise the voice against the double standards of the Indian nation, silence of International organizations on the case,” they said.
The victims said the incident changed the course of their life. “We have been ignored by our own people. Even today marriage proposals of our girls are turned down.  Many girls have become overage and their chances of getting married are bleak due to stigma of being the kin of rape victims," they said. 
One of the victims said she has six unmarried daughters. "Two of my daughters have crossed the marriageable age while for four others I am desperately awaiting marriage proposals,” she said.
 The villagers said many victims suffered with psychological disorders due to trauma. “Several of the victims died due to non availability of proper medical treatment and counseling,” they said. 
 "Due to mass rape, my body got partially paralyzed,” a victim said.  After the incident one of the victims gave birth to a girl child with fractured leg on March 25, 1991. 
 "After raping me, the troopers kicked my abdomen injuring my unborn baby. She was born with a fractured leg and due to abject poverty, I have been unable to treat her,” she said while pointing towards her physically challenged daughter
 The victims mince no words to accuse the NGOs and outside the state media for what they said “exploiting the incident for their own interests.”
 The victims fear that like Pathribal case, the accused might get away citing black law Armed Froces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).  “However, we have full confidence on local print media and judiciary that they will help us to get justice. We are grateful to Support group for Justice for Kunan-Poshpora survivors for  fighting our case,” they said.