Terming mass rape of women, in the villages of Kunan and Poshpora by the Indian Army as “a chilling example of the impunity that surrounds human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir”, rights group Amnesty International India has sought impartial investigation into the alleged rape incident on its 27th anniversary.
“For 27 years, the lack of accountability for the crimes committed in Kunan and Poshpora has been a festering injustice, and a chilling example of the impunity that surrounds human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir,” Asmita Basu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India said.
Basu said that the authorities must ensure impartial investigation into the allegations and also demanded suspects to be prosecuted in a civilian court.
Pertinently, in 2011, Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission had directed the state government to compensate victims, and also re-investigate the allegations.
After two years, in 2013, Kupwara district court had directed Jammu and Kashmir Police to investigate allegations into the investigation within three months.
“Five survivors of Kunan Poshpora had filed a petition in Jammu and Kashmir High Court in October 2013, whereas state agencies have been able to secure the temporary orders suspending investigations and the provision of compensation,” stated the Amnesty statement.
Pertinently, the police in Kashmir today erected barricades near the village Hanjipora, about 2 kms away from the villages of Kunan and Poshpora, and prevented members of the legal team, headed by Advocate Parvez Imroz, and rights activists, members of the ‘Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora’ from reaching the village.
The team was on way to the villages to discuss the legal case and express solidarity with the survivors. Inspector General Police (Kashmir) and Senior Superintendent of Police, Kupwara confirmed that the team would not be allowed to proceed further.
As per the group, “This is in keeping with a systematic pattern of banning, and censoring civil society discussions, memorial programmes and press conferences particularly on the issue of sexual violence by state actors. Last year a planned press conference organized by the Support Group was banned citing the possibility of ‘law and order’ issues. In 2016, the mother of Handwara minor alleging sexual assault by a soldier was also not allowed to hold a press conference.”
The Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora today filed a petition before the State Human Rights Commission highlighting the use of sexual violence in the Kashmir conflict, and the continuing legal impunity for state perpetrators of sexual crimes.