Abandoned And Forgotten
By Syed Junaid Hashmi
31 March, 2007
by their families, abandoned by society, forgotten by both separatists
and mainstream political parties, rape victims during the last seventeen
years of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir live an appalling life. Reports
of Kashmir based social organizations put the figure of women raped,
molested and abused above one thousand but data compiled by international
agencies like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International put the figure
Interestingly, State home
department has no specific data regarding the number of rapes and molestation
cases that took place in the state during the last seventeen years.
When contacted, officials in the home department say that media reports
regarding the number of rape and molestation cases hardly predict the
actual picture. Further, they maintain that families of allegedly raped
women hardly take pain in going to the police and registering FIR against
the accused, hence preventing the guilty from being convicted.
However, records suggest
that during the last seventeen years state government did initiate judicial
inquiry in two cases of rape from Kashmir province, reports of which
have been submitted to the government but action is yet to be taken.
All the five committees of department of crime and railways which were
entrusted with the job of finding truth about five allegations of rape
have submitted their report since long but action is yet to be taken
According to data maintained
by a media portal of United Kingdom (UK) on reported cases of rape and
molestation in which security forces were allegedly involved, nearly
500 women were raped in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir between 1990-1994.
Media portal maintains that it has compiled the reports from what was
reported by state media. The portal maintains that non-governmental
organizations (NGO) hardly took interest in documenting the plight of
these silent sufferers of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the newspaper
reports, take the case of alleged gang-rape and molestation of seven
ladies at Hyhama, Batapora in District Kupwara. As per a report, on
June 17, 1994, troops of Rashtriya Rifles accompanied by two officers
Major Ramesh and Raj Kumar entered into village Hyhama and allegedly
raped and molested seven women.
Reports maintain that next
day; people took to streets to protest against the incident. Even the
insane were not spared. According to reports, security forces allegedly
raped an old lady who was mentally ill in a house at Barbar Shah in
Srinagar on January 5, 1991. Perturbed over the incident, locals lodged
an FIR with concerned police station. Medical reports confirmed that
she had been raped. She died in 1998 with her FIR awaiting action from
the state government.
Media reports maintain that
at Wanagam Kokernag in Anantnag, women who were collecting fire wood
in nearby forest were allegedly molested by the forces during crackdown
on May 9, 1994. In another case, reports say that at Manigah in Kupwara,
three ladies were raped during crackdown in a house on May 14, 1994.
An FIR stands registered in the concerned Police station concerned.
Apart from this, Locals also protested and demonstrated against this
There are many other such
cases which have been reported by state media. But with victims reluctant
to come forward; Documentation of these cases could never take place.
Failure in documentation of these cases has worsened the situation.
According to a 1994 United Nations publication from 1990 to 1996, 882
women were reportedly gang-raped by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
But social stigma associated
with word Rape has made work of human rights and women NGOs cumbersome.
They say that women are reluctant to come forward. They maintain that
the sordid story of Konan-Poshpura in Kupwara has been repeated over
and again. According to reports, in the year 1991, on the night of February
22-23 troops of 5th Rajputana rifles allegedly raped 30 women in Kunan-Poshpura
in Kupwara aged between 18 to 85 years.
15 years have passed since
the incident took place; no marriage has taken place in Kunan Poshpura.
Reports indicate that a few have been psychologically affected. Awaiting
justice, these unfortunate mothers and daughters get a mention every
where no support. And in the recent times, in November 2004 the alleged
rape of a mother-daughter duo by security forces in Badar payein, Handwara
sparked protests across Kashmir. The incident was preceded by another
one in Mattan Anantnag where a woman was allegedly gang raped by troops
of Rashtriya Rifles.
While separatists address
their plight by stating that they have lost their honour for a greater
cause, state government orders an inquiry which remains inconclusive
and guilty get rewards for having fought militancy tooth and nail. "I
know by merely giving statements honour lost by our daughters, sisters
and mothers cannot be restored. They expected a lot more from the separatist
leadership than what it has been doing, unfortunately we failed in pursuing
the cause of our women vigorously," said a separatist leader Shahid-ul-islam
of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz Group).
He added that cases of rape
and molestation deserved more attention than custodial murders and disappearances
but it never happened. "Had all the incidents been reported, the
number would have been somewhere around 3000, Social stigma associated
with rape in Kashmir valley prevented a number of families from coming
forward," added the separatist leader. However, he said that they
have been helping those who came forward and reported the incident.
Ironically enough, even human
rights organizations have started forgetting women of Jammu and Kashmir
who have been the worst losers. In an era when focus is on women empowerment,
the report recently released by Human Rights Watch has details of instances
of custodial killings, disappearances, shootings and arbitrary detentions,
in the region, but the words 'rape' or molestation' do not appear anywhere
in the report.
Various female social workers
say that state media and human rights groups have not reported the incidents
of rape and molestation with greater interest, hence expecting the same
from international groups becomes a little harsh.
A four members fact finding
team led by a Mumbai based journalist Ritu Dewan visited Jammu-Kashmir
in May 1994 and later wrote that incidence of rape is higher than what
is reported because of the associated stigma associated with it. Human
rights groups like Amnesty International, Asia Watch a division of Human
Rights Watch have however acknowledged the occurrence of rapes in Indian
administered Kashmir in their reports earlier, blaming both Indian troops
When officials of the state
government are rung up, they plainly refuse to talk outside the official
files which have been gathering dust since long. "A case cannot
be framed against anyone on the basis of media reports, Victim must
file an FIR on which an inquiry could be conducted. Once the inquiry
report comes, state believes in giving exemplary punishments to those
involved," said a senior officer of the home department on the
condition of anonymity.
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