This article shows the chilling of judicial and military organizations. A forgotten case of the Kunan Poshpora massacre in Kashmir where more than 100 women were raped and nearly 200 men were tortured by soldiers and such organization or investigating team considered it a ‘baseless’ allegation.
The question rises is that – Those who protect us from enemies, becoming enemies? This paper elevates how the state itself is associated with violating the rights of individuals.
WHAT HAPPENED IN KUNAN AND POSHPORA?
Kashmir, “Paradise on Earth”, is the most adorable place situated in India for which an alien country is fighting. Indian soldiers are on the territory of Kashmir 24/7 to protect it. Most of the Indian soldiers are stationed in Kashmir only but sometimes this saviour becomes an adversary.
KUNAN and POSHPORA are the villages in Kashmir in the KUPWARA district where an alleged mass raped occurred on 23rd February 1991. On the night of 23rd February when militants fired upon Indian security forces, Indian forces launched an operation against the militants and it lead to prompt the Kunan-Poshpora incident.
On 5th March, villagers claimed to the magistrate S.M. Yasin, when he came to look after this matter, that many women were raped by soldiers that night. On 7th March, the magistrate filed a report for the harassment of 23 women in the KUPWARA district and on 8th March, First Information Report [FIR] was registered at TREHGAM police station.
Human Right Watch asserts that the number of women who were gang raped could be 23 to 100 but the government stated that there is no substantial evidence to show against gang rape. Also, the army denied such an allegation and called it a ‘baseless’ allegation.
REACTION OF ORGANISATIONS
As mentioned above, the government was not accepting their flaws and later, it was highly criticized to ignore such a catastrophe. On 17th March, Chief Justice of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, Faroqi stood against the government and said that the investigation of the Kunan Poshpora incident was not done beseemingly. He was transferred later and his voice was muffled by the authorities.
On 18th March, Divisional Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah visited the village and concluded that the complaint is highly doubtful and recommended further investigation. Afterwards, the Press Council of India appointed an investigation team.
The team investigated and a medical examination was conducted on 32 women. The reports of medical examination confirmed the presence of abrasions on their chests and abdomens and found that three unmarried women had torn hymens. The team neglected the report and gave the argument that abrasions are normally found in Kashmiri villagers and hymen ragged due to natural factors or premarital sex.
After, the press council’s report, the Kunan Poshpora case was declared inept and government authorities dismissed allegations of mass rape as causeless.
NEGLIGENCE OF JUDICIARY
Every section of the state has a different role to play in ensuring equality, liberty, and justice to its citizen in which the judiciary is responsible to settle disputes and administering justice to all citizens. Sometimes there are chances of mistakes and misunderstandings to provide fair judgments but these amiss judgments lead to the human rights violation.
The same happened in the case of Kunan Poshpora case, as mentioned above, where more than 100 women were gang raped. To endow justice for the victims of Kupwara district, the villagers fought to get the case moving in Jammu and Kashmir’s State Human Rights Commission [SHRC]. The commission found that the allegation of gang rape is true. It ordered the state government to look over this matter but it has never come in limelight.
In 2013, fifty Kashmiri women come forward to re-open the case and filed a petition in Srinagar high court. The high court issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir government but there were no criteria or time limit for the government to respond to the notice.
By this time, the high court degraded the value of the case and the case moved to the district court. When the case again came into the picture, the high court ordered the Jammu and Kashmir governments to compensate the victims.
Same time, the Indian Army filed a petition in Srinagar High Court asking for a stay order against the ordered investigation into the mass rape. Later on, between 2014 and 2015, five petitions were filed in the Supreme Court.
The state government filed a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the high court’s order and the Indian army also moved to the apex court of India to order villagers of Kunan and Poshpora to withdraw the case.
Meanwhile, from 23rd February 2014, Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day is solemnized to recognize the courage of all Kashmiri women against state violence. Further, Kashmiri women filed another petition in the Supreme Court against the stay order on the investigation but there was no such final judgment over the petitions.
The case of the Kupwara district is still pending in court. The victims still haven’t got justice. Due to the lack of attention from the judiciary on such cases, the perpetrators of crime get more chances to do certain illegal things and the crime goes on increasing. You must have observed that in the above-highlighted case how the government, judiciary and even the whole state were ignoring a big issue.
Human rights violations are common in the contemporary world but to protect the human rights of the citizen, the judiciary is there. Also, we have discussed sometimes the state has a giant role in breaching the human rights of citizens.
In the Kunan Poshpora case, there was a massive human rights violation inflicted by the Indian army. The safeguards for human rights should not be in the paper only but it needs to be implemented practically. Human rights court should be there to keep checks and balance over the infringement of basic rights and rape laws should also be amended.
I think, if every individual, group, society, and organization starts doing their job in a free and fair manner and without looking at their self-interest, we can maintain a good relationship between the government and human rights and also state will conquer in endowing equality, liberty and justice to its citizens.