Dr Muhammad Khan
An emotionally charged Indian General could not resist admitting what Indian security forces, especially Indian Army has been doing in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir ever since 1990. In a live Indian TV Programme (TV9 Bharatvarsh), Major General SP Sinha said “Death in return for death, rape in return for rape.” Indeed, the statement of General Sinha is a true reflection of the activities, Indian Army officers and men have been involved in throughout its occupation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The innocent Kashmiris have not been involved in killing of anyone nor did they rape anyone. Indeed, Indian Army and CRPF have killed the Kashmiris and raped the women with complete impunity under the brutal laws, enforced in the state ever since 1990.
The Kashmiri Pandits were officially moved out by Indian Army in 1989/1990 under the directive of then Governor of IOK Mr Jagmohan. They were neither killed nor raped by Kashmiri Muslims. In fact, they were living with rest of Kashmiris like a family and there have never been communal issues in IOK throughout. Even today, the Kashmiri Muslims desire that Pandits should come back to their ancestral places and restart their traditional family system, somehow disturbed in 1990s. Neither the Pandits wanted to move out nor the Muslim population of the state wanted them to leave their houses. It was all a planned move out of the Pandits with the sole purpose of having an open killing ground for the Indian Army to kill the Kashmiri Muslims.
Since Pandits were living in the same areas alongside the Muslims, therefore, segregation was difficult. Moving Pandits out of Muslim areas gave a free hand to Indian Army which killed over 100,000 Kashmiris in IOK. Besides, as per the available record, Indian Army has raped over 13000 Kashmiri women in IOK. The real figures are much higher since majority of the cases are not reported in the media or police owing to element of shame. In Kashmir there is a conservative family system and people of the state are following the religion in its true spirit.
Indian Army and 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, 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 the power and authority to do anything against the poor people of Kashmir, during raids and house searching operations in IOK, they take out the men for interrogation and then rape the women folk at gun point. 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. As per details, “at Kunan Poshpora women of all ages; elderly women, young girls and pregnant women were raped, while men were taken out to interrogation centres.”
The statement of General SP Sinha is an open confession of raping the Kashmiri women and killing Kashmiris by a very senior Indian Army General, who is part of BJP Government, after his retirement. Whatever he said in the live TV programme has Three Connotations. One, rape and killing in IOK has been a routine practice of Indian Army and Pandits are just being named as an excuse. Two, Indian Government is planning to rehabilitate the Pandits in areas other than their ancestral places, in fortified areas with special colonies built for them, which may be resisted by the locals, thus it is an advance warning to kill the Kashmiri men and rape the Kashmiri women if they resist this India strategy. Three, in the garb of Pandits, Indian Government is planning to settle non-Kashmiri Hindus from various parts of India, inviting severe Kashmiri backlash from the state-subjects.
General SP Sinha has revealed what India has done to Kashmiris and what it is planning for the occupied state in the days to come. In fact, the continuation of curfew and siege in IOK since 112 days is all about the implementation of its strategy. There has been very less media coverage of this very dangerous statement with hardly any public response. For the UN and international community the revelations of General Sinha is yet another evidence of massive human rights violations with rape of Kashmiri women being used a weapon of war. The world should take a serious note of such confessional statements and compel India for lifting the siege in IOK, demilitarizing it and finally moving towards its resolution.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.