Dr Muhammad Khan
EVER since 1990, Indian security forces have been using rape as a weapon against the Kashmiri women of all ages. This has been a shameful act, which Indian Government did not condemn despite clear evidence in case of Indian occupied Kashmir. Very recently there has been disclosure of rape of an eight-year-old girl Asifa from a nomad family of Jammu area. According to the so far investigations carried out under the order of IOK Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, she was kept in confinement in a local temple for several days, where she was constantly raped and given sedatives for keeping her unconscious. As the report reveals, Asifa was raped for raped for days with constant torture and finally killed brutally by striking on her head. Indeed, “She was strangled to death and then hit on the head twice with a stone.”
As the initial investigations proved, there was involvement of high Hindu officials including legislatures, police officers and even the Hindu Temple people in this brutal act of rape and murder. According to details, “Sanji Ram, a 60-year-old retired government officer, allegedly planned the crime with the help of police officers Surender Verma, Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj and Mr Khajuria.” Though there have been arrest of eight people, involved in this rape and molestation, but, there is a slow progress on the proceedings of the case. Furthermore, since the father of the girl is a poor Nomad, therefore he along with rest of his family have been threatened to move away to different location. As per the Ms Naseema, the mother of the child, Asifa, once they got the news that her body is laying in a nearby jungle, she went to site alongwith her husband and her daughter’s body I a very tragic condition. The mother further explained, “She had been tortured. Her legs were broken. Her nails had turned black and there were blue and red marks on her arm and fingers.” All the clothes of Asifa were bloodied and mud-spattered. Such a brutal rape and murder of a minor is indeed unprecedented and unimaginable. Only barbarians could do this, not the human beings. This speaks of Indian treatment with poor Kashmiris, the Indian mind set towards Kashmiris on the soil of Kashmiris.
Asifa’s rape, molestation and killing has been reported and known to media after days. However, thousands of rape cases of Kashmiri women in IOK are not reported on media and not known to much of the people even. According to independent sources, there are 500-600 individual rape cases occur in the Indian occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir per year. Most of these cases are not reported in media and police/ court, 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. There have been many such incidents of rapes, individual cases as well as collectively ever since 1989, since the beginning of the renewed indigenous struggle of Kashmiris for their right of self-determination. In the decade of 1990, the Indian Army committed rapes in a record number. According to Kashmir Media Service and Kashmir Liberation cell, there are over 11000 reported rape cases in IOK at the hands of Indian Army and Central Reserve Police from 1990 to 2016.
Throughout since 1990, rape has been a frequent phenomenon by Indian Army in IOK. 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 8 years to 80 years women were raped by Indian Army men on that night. As cited by international the human rights organizations, “at Kunan Poshpora women of all ages; elderly women, young girls and pregnant women were raped, while men were taken out to interrogation centres.” Despite the demands from human rights groups, no action was taken by Indian Army against the Army men, committed in this worst act of violence against humanity in IOK.
‘In 2013, Samreena Mushtaq, who had documented sexual violence cases for the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), along with other activists petitioned the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to reopen the case, but there is no progress as of to-date. In IOK, rape of women is used by Indian Government and Indian Army as a weapon to force the women folk to remain away from the Kashmiris struggle for their right of self-determination. It is high time now; the rapists of Asifa and all other women of the IOK must be brought to fair trails and given exemplary punishment. Since Indian Government and puppet IOK Government is unlikely to undertake a fair trial as happened in the past, therefore, these cases, especially Asifa rape and killing case should be taken to International Criminal Court by Pakistan.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.