Concurrent to the crackdown on the separatists and Jamaat-e-Islami in the Kashmir Valley, the fictitious case of Kunan-Pushpora mass rape case has resurfaced. This could be due to instructions conveyed by Pakistan through the ‘hotline’ between Umar Farooq, the so-called Mirwaiz and Pakistan. Not that the two political dynasties would not be interested in such propaganda to show the Army in poor light; Abdullahs behind ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pundits and Muftis in bed with Hijbul Mujahedeen and orchestrating the 1989 abduction of Rubaiya Saeed for setting free Sheikh Abdul Hameed of JKLF, Ghulam Nabi Butt (younger brother of the Maqbool Butt, Noor Muhammad Kalwal, Muhammed Altaf and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar.
It is only Rajat Sharma who recently asked Mehbooba in his TV show if she loved Pakistan so dearly, why doesn’t she migrate. But then ‘namak halali’ is profitable business for making money both ways. Whether Rubaiya and her family continue to enjoy perks of state guests in South India, replete with security, remains a question.
There is much jubilation over removal of security cover of separatists, which anyway was not warranted considering these rats were enjoying protection of terrorists anyway. But have we looked at the implications of this action from all angles? For example, according to a serving J&K Police (JAKP) officer, the security cover helped monitor who the separatists were meeting. But with security cover removed, separatists have been given a free hand. There is, therefore, need to establish a foolproof monitoring system to cover activities of these fellows, who will be more than active after Indian strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camps.
Human resources for such monitoring must be carefully screened, considering the National Investigation Agency (NIA) discovered the Pakistan-Umar Farooq ‘hotline’ after so many years, despite his well known anti-India activities. This should indeed be a matter of shame; why were our the IB and state intelligence sleuths sleeping till now, not even noticing the antenna atop the house of Farooq? This sure stinks of compromise.
The post headlined “After 28 Years, The Kunan-Poshpora Mass Rape Survivors Continue To Await Justice”, talks of an incident on February 23, 1991, in the village of Kunan-Pushpora in what it describes as ‘Indian administered Kashmir’. It goes on to say that night over 300 Indian Army personnel raided Kunan- Poshpora and gang-raped over 100 girls and women, barns turning into torture chambers nearly 200 men were tortured, and men were sexually tortured and given electric shocks.
The long article goes says amongst other things: only 30-40 women among the hundreds stepped forward to seek justice, the others were asked to keep quiet by their village elders because they wouldn’t find a groom; for last three years, a case in the Supreme Court is pending; despite all the battles, rape continues to be a weapon of intimidation all “over the world”, and; after all these years, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) allows the Indian Army to continue to exercise barbarism and enjoy complete impunity.
Kunan and Pushpora are twin villages in Kupwara District of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). In 1990-1991, Pakistan was going full hog in fanning terrorism in the Kashmir Valley. In one particular incident, an Assam Rifles Battalion had intercepted and killed 97 Pakistani terrorists infiltrating little South of Eagle Pass in the thick of winter in knee deep snows. The infiltrators were equipped with ski pants, bum pads to slide down snow-covered slopes and carrying kitbags with additional weapons. Based on information of presence terrorists in Kushan-Pushpora, a cordon and search operation was launched which involved troops from more than one infantry battalion.
The firebrand Sri Nagar-based Corps Commander, a devout Muslim who had also commanded a Brigade and Division in the Kashmir Valley, had given standing orders that he be woken up every one hour through the night and kept informed progress of operations. Next day, he would drive to the scene of incident (s) after the daily morning briefing. This was also followed during the Kunan-Pushpora cordon and search operation conducted in heavy snowfall on the night of February 23, 1991. J&K in those days was under President’s Rule, with GC Saxena as Governor J&K.
After six days of above cordon and search operations, SM Yashin, DM Kupwara himself filed a FIR alleging 100 women had been raped in Kunan-Pushpora, including one 80 years old. He obviously was under terrorist threat or bribed and radicalized to so write. This set the ball rolling over the next one year for inquiries, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chaired by Saifuddin Soz, national and international human rights groups descending on the Valley, with protests and propaganda galore denouncing the Army. Imagine villages being searched in heavy snowfall by troops from more than one unit indulging in mass rapes when there is information of terrorists (obviously armed) in the same village.
An investigation committee of the Press Council of India investigating the allegations concluded that the charges against the Army were totally false, part of the report stating that “the rape story on close investigation turns out to be a massive hoax orchestrated by militant groups and their sympathizers and mentors in Kashmir and abroad as a part of sustained and cleverly contrived strategy of psychological warfare and as an entry point for reinscribing Kashmir on the International Agenda as a human rights issue. The loose-ends and the contradictions in the story expose a tissue of lies by many persons at many levels”.
It is widely known that politicians, terrorist organization, separatists and radicals in J&K in connivance with their Pakistani mentors, have been continuously working to malign and disgrace the Army, which has its own human rights organization. Not only are FIRs being fired against Army personnel forced to fire in self defence, there have also been odd cases of politicians at centre and state level contriving to punish military personnel performing bona-fide military duties, to achieve their political ends.
Rape and FIRs are psychological weapons to bind soldiers in endless litigation. Such propaganda is used periodically to affect the functioning and moral of soldiers. This, despite the Indian Army being the most disciplined in the world and taking strict disciplinary action whenever a charge is proved. But those aligned with Pakistan will continue their nefarious activities regardless.
A commentary on the Kunan Pushpora rape case was reportedly read out at the recent Jaipur Literary Festival. Incidentally Essar Batool and Ifrah Butt, who co-authored the book ‘Do You Remember Kunan Pushpora’, describe J&K as India Occupied Kashmir, which says it all. Like Rajat Sharma asked Mehbooba, these women need to be asked why they don’t go settle in Pakistan.
As early as 1990-1991, captured Pakistani infiltrators revealed at the Joint Interrogation Centre at Srinagar that they were given an AK-47, a lakh of rupees in Indian currency and told before being inducted into J&K that they were: to kill Indians; pick up any girl / woman and enjoy life; if they got killed, they would go to heaven – 72 assured; should they get captured, India human rights organizations will root for their release; local lawyers would refrain from accusing them, and; since they would be imprisoned only within J&K, they would be looked after well during captivity. That some of the prisons have become proper radicalization centres is another issue. But the heinous crimes perpetrated by the terrorists on the locals seem to be acceptable to Mufti’s, Abdullah’s, separatists and their ilk.