No justice for Aasiya, Neelofar

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Muhammad Raza Malik

Lest We Forget – Asiya and Neelofar -PKKH.tvIndia is using rape and molestation of women as a weapon of war to suppress the Kashmiris’ struggle for securing their inalienable right to self-determination.

Women are the worst victims of Indian state terrorism in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir as Indian troops have molested over 11,240 women since January 1989 till date.

Rape and murder of two women in Shopian, the mass rape of Kunanposhpora, and rape and murder of a minor girl, Aasifa Bano, in Kathua area of Jammu region are glaring examples of this brutality committed by Indian forces’ personnel in the occupied territory.

Indian men in uniform had abducted 17-year-old Aasiya and her 22-year-old sister-in-law Neelofar after they had gone to their orchard on May 29 in 2009, gang-raped and subsequently murdered them in custody. Their bodies were recovered from an ankle-deep stream in the area on the next morning.

The troops had raped around one hundred women in Kunanposhpora area of Kupwara district on the night of 23 February 1991.

An 8-year-old Muslim girl, Aasifa Bano, was raped and killed by seven Hindus including four policemen and a temple priest in January 2018 in Kathua area of Jammu.

IIOJK is that region of the world where Indian troops are committing the worst human rights violations and subjecting the women to sexual violence on daily basis.

Human Rights Watch in its report in November 2019 maintained that India is using rape of Kashmiri women as a weapon of war in IIOJK.

At the 52nd United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Professor William Baker, a human-rights activist, argued that rape in IIOJK was not merely a case of isolated incidents involving undisciplined soldiers, rather Indian forces were actively deploying rape on Kashmiri populace as a method of humiliation and invoking fear.

The rape and molestation of women by Indian forces’ personnel in IIOJK has become a routine and even former Indian Army officers affiliated with the ruling extremist BJP are supporting the use of this crime as a weapon to punish the Kashmiris.

During a talk show in November 2019, BJP leader, Major General (retd), S P Sinha, advocated the use of this tactic.

His remarks reflected the communal and Hindutva ideology of Narendra Modi that is targeting the Kashmiri women.

Kashmiri women are facing unending ordeal of trauma due to sexual violence at the hands of Indian troops and the rape cases in IIOJK expose the dark face of the so-called democratic India.

Justice continues to elude the family of Aasiya and Neelofar despite the passage of twelve years.

It is unfortunate that not a single Indian soldier or policeman involved in Shopian tragedy, Kunanposhpora gory incident, Kathua brutality and other such heinous crimes has been punished till date.

The Indian forces’ personnel enjoy complete impunity for their brutal actions due to the black laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Areas Act.

India’s brutal actions in IIOJK pose a challenge to the global community. The organizations working for the women rights should not remain silent on the victimization of the Kashmiri women and take measures to bring the Indian policemen and troops involved in such crimes to book.

The world must wake up to contain the sexual violence being used as a war tactic by India in IIOJK.

Aasiya and Neelofar were abducted by Indian men in uniform on the evening of this day (May 29) in 2009 when they had gone to tend their orchard in Shopian.

They were gang-raped and subsequently murdered in custody. Their bodies were found in a shallow stream in Ranbiara area on the next morning.

Twelve years have passed since Aasiya and Neelofar were raped and murdered but justice still continues to elude their family. The incident had triggered widespread protests across occupied Kashmir.

The occupied territory convulsed with outrage and shut in protest for 16 days. Shopian town had observed an unprecedented 47-day shutdown demanding justice for the young women.

Shakeel Ahngar, husband of Neelofar and brother of Aasiya, has lost faith in the Indian institutions and demanded justice from independent international forums.

Shakeel in an interview said he has now completely lost faith in all institutions of India and the occupied territory and demanded a probe by an independent international agency into the Shopian incident.

“I have nothing new to add to my poignant tale that I have already recounted umpteen times. The justice delivery system in this part of world stands frozen,” he said.

He added that all investigations initiated by the occupation authorities were a smokescreen used to shield the perpetrators.

“The killers, the rapists are the ones who are doing the investigation,” says the father of one. How can you trust a system that is run by the very people who are part of the society that questions the integrity of a woman who has been raped?” he asked.

He, however, said that he would never succumb to any pressure. “I am relentless in my pursuit for justice, come what may,” Ahangar added.
The author is Senior Editor at Kashmir Media Service.