ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Festering Wound

The Kunan Poshpora mass rape case must be independently investigated.

Twenty-two years is a long time to prove any crime. Yet the very fact that the women of the twin villages of Kunan and Poshpora in Kashmir’s northern Kupwara district are still demanding justice for the alleged mass rape that occurred there should tell us that it is never too late to revisit some crimes. After being virtually ignored for more than two decades, these women are now publicly talking about the night of 23/24 February 1991 when, they allege, soldiers from the 4 Rajputana Rifles of the 68th Brigade, raped at least 32 women during a late night cordon and search operation. It took the women almost 10 days to summon up the courage to file a complaint. Although many were afraid, 32 women finally registered FIRs at the local police station and underwent medical examination.

In a normal situation, that should have led to further investigation and a case against the perpetrators of this crime. But in Kashmir little is normal. In 1991, at the height of the insurgency, things were nowhere near normal. The primary concern of the local authorities and the army was to ensure that nothing came in the way of the fight against militancy. The cries of these women, as indeed of many others in Kashmir, were simply ignored. Thus, even though the district magistrate asked for further investigation, as did the divisional commissioner at that time, Wajahat Habibullah (although this suggestion was deleted from his final report), the case was virtually closed by the end of 1991.

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