Tendering ‘apology’ on Kunan-Poshpora – I
‘What can I say? I can only say that I am ashamed that it happened in my country. I am apologetic and appalled that it has happened in my country’.
_____Salman Khurshid, Srinagar June 28, 2013
Days after Indian prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, the doyen queen of Congress party visited Kashmir to be “welcomed” by deserted streets and complete shutdown against their arrival, Indian external affairs minister Salman Khurshid tendered his apology on the shameful incident of Kunan Poshpora where Indian army raped scores of Muslim women.
Twin villages Kunan and Poshpora in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district witnessed mass rape of over forty women including minor girls and aged women by soldiers of Indian army’s 4 Rajputana Rifles of 68 Brigade during the intervening night of February 23rd and 24th 1991. Army cordoned the village and dragged all male members out of their crimes and held them at gun point. Women resisted, cried for help but to no avail. ‘That night seemed too long and unending and they raped us one by one brutally. For many days we were lying in the same condition as army continued the cordon around our village. Many young girls were bleeding profusely, some were crying and others left shell-shocked. It was like a hell all around’, one of the victims of the mass rape by Indian soldiers recounted the bone-chilling incident during a programme on June 22nd last month (GK, June 23, 2013). The maiden programme, ‘Kunan-Poshpora mass rape and torture: case reopening and future struggle for justice’ was organized by JK Coalition of Civil Society in Srinagar in the backdrop of recent order of local court in Kupwara to investigate the case.
That in the gut-wrenching incident Indian army was hundred percent involved has been substantiated in a recent statement by former Director General of BSF, E N Ram Mohan who served as inspector general of the force in Kashmir from 1993 to 1994. While terming the infamous incident ‘a blot on the Indian democracy’, Ram Mohan spoke his heart out: ‘I by heart hold 4 Rajputana Rifles responsible for their barbaric acts. There is not any iota of doubt that Indian Security personnel from 4-rajputana Rifles raped the married and unmarried women of Kunan Poshpora and for this heinous crime they should be hanged without any delay’. (Kashmir Reader, June 20, 2013)
Ram Mohan’s plain-speak, from unexpected quarters although, cannot, however, exonerate his forces he commanded and he himself from the heinous crimes of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, rape and torture they inflicted on unarmed civilians. Every formation of Indian forces deployed in Kashmir have their hands stained with the blood of Kashmiri people. Rape they have committed as an instrument of war to dampen the spirits of freedom-loving people. Kunan Poshpora lay it bare. Entire unit of 4-Rajputana Rifles from lowest sepoy to high rank officer stand implicated. A deliberate wanton act of beastliness to derobe honor of Muslim women and leave them demolished and traumatized for entire period of life.
That said, we nonetheless hail Ram Mohan statement as a bold assertion from an officer so close to Indian establishment. And one who felt the weight of his conscience and vented his spleen that straight way. Probes and commissions have been subtle techniques of Delhi Darbar to mislead International Community. So many probes to ‘identity’ and ‘punish’ criminals in uniform have been conducted but only to further embolden the forces personnel to enact such ghastly acts. Far from proving effective deterrents to check the marauding guilty personnel, these have “boasted the morale” of Indian Forces to feel “satisfied” that the ‘entire Indian nation is at their back.
Kunan Poshpora was too ‘probed’. This time Press Council of India headed by B G Vergeese was assigned the task to mislead the world and Indian people. Vergeese bailed India out. With his tongue in cheek demeanor the noted Indian journalist accused the victim survivors of fabricating evidence to ‘malign the security forces at the behest of the militants’, a rhetoric that has improvised even Goeblian propaganda.
The successive governments including national Conference and PDP which wear ‘regional character’ and ‘Kashmiriyat’ on their sleeves, all hushed up the case for their petty benefits and part interests.
(To be concluded)