Sexual Violence- The Ultimate Source of Destruction in Kashmir

Frailty-the name is women. This phrase can never be true. Because women are that creature of God, who have inbuilt strength to tolerate and accept the social, cultural and biological restraints. But these strengths are not given to be shattered by anyone at any cost. Women is the eloquent of power, generosity and love.  To break a women, whether physically or mentally, means to traumatize a whole society, generation and women all over the world, to be actual.  Frailty; however, can never even be the characteristic of women, until and unless, the brutal animals in the society take their utmost responsibility to destruct the will, ambitions, desires, self-esteem, self-respect, honor, family, friends, present as well as their future, so they could never ever raised their voices against these beasts. As this is their foremost strategy to keep these women silent and blue. They just know how to tear them, as well as their confidence to stand by them, looking in their eyes, and fight for their rights. 

To pen down these incidents of humiliation of women, could never be easy for anyone. It gives pain that humanity dies at each and every step on the land of Kashmir. This gives sorrow to even think about expressing pain in writing and not doing anything else. But the world can never underestimate the power of pen, which had already toppled down the great barbarians of the time, which upraised the revolts, which changes the great times of the world. Let’s hope and pray, the frailty of women can never be experienced again. 

Sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual rapes and abuse, are not just the harsh terms, but actions, which could deprive women and men, of every positive feeling and thought ever. These are the basic tools used by Indian troops to destroy the will of freedom of the women and men of Kashmir. The heart wrenching brutalities of Indian troops against Kasmiri women are not even describable. Wartime sexual violence is common strategy but the war in Kashmir seems to be a dark patch, which has no clearing.  

On January 10, 2018, Asifa Bano, an eight year old Muslim girl from the Bakerwal community was abducted from Rasana village in Jammu and Kashmir. It was later found that she had been drugged, tortured and raped for a whole week, while in captivity before being murdered, by several people in Kathua territory. As many as seven people had been arrested in this case including the alleged mastermind Sanji Ram, a former revenue official, who is believed to have engineered the whole crime, as well as his son Vishal. A sub-inspector, head constable and two special police officers had also been arrested for destroying prima facie evidence during the initial stages of investigation. The basic intention of accused was to manifest fear among the Gujjar community to which the child belongs to.  

Another historical massive sexual violence occurred in 1991, as paramilitary forces rounded-up and removed men for interrogation from their homes in the village of Kunan, Poshpora in Dupwar district, 60 kms north of Kashmir, soldiers from the Fourth Rajputana Rifles division allegedly asked mothers, wives, aunts, daughters and children to stay in their homes. During the military operation, sexual violence and gang rape against what villagers claimed was 100 women, one as old as 80 years old, were reported. Besides direct violence of sexual nature, Indian troops were also involved in crimes like sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors. According to the OHCHR (United Nations Human Rights) report, chronic impunity for sexual violence also remains a key concern in Kashmir. “Attempts to seek justice have been denied and blocked over the years at different levels,” the report says. Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the report says, noting that the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA) have “created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.”.

According to Asia Watch and PHR published report on human rights in Kashmir, PHR and Asia Watch hope to focus international attention on the use of rape as a tactic of war in Kashmir and on government policies which have led the security forces to believe they can carry out these crimes with impunity. The cases included in this report are illustrative; there have been many more cases of rape than was possible to document here. In both conflict and non-conflict situations, the central element of rape by the security forces is power. Indian Soldiers and police use rape as a weapon: to punish, intimidate, coerce, humiliate and degrade. 

The addition of the already existing culture of impunity allowed by a law like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act makes J&K a safe haven for perpetrators of injustice, not even a single case has ever resulted in criminal prosecution. Rapes and other gender based violence are basically state sponsored, thus Indian troops get support by their government officials. The complaints of extensive human rights abuses are often dismissed and taken for granted. Due to these unjust and unattended judicial trials of Indian soldiers who are rape accused, locals also got motivation to commit these heinous crimes, as they are certain to not to be accountable at any place. The unjust judicial and police system encouraged these people to get lower down their extremes of morality. These events contributes to the misogynist attitudes and cultures across Kashmir. 

The tranquil of every angel has been demolished again. This is a true event of despair, where a three year old minor, named Aiman Zahira, was brutally raped by a boy aged twenty, claimed to be a minor, on 8th May, 2019, in Malikpora, Tregham area of Sumbal in North Kashmir, Bandipora District. This incident is an evidence of extreme insensitivity and immorality of these so-called human beings. People of Kashmir stood up and protested for the just trial of the arrested accused of rape. Their only demand is to hang the accused publically to prove it as an exemplary punishment on fast track basis. So people could develop their trust and faith in judiciary and police. Their lost faith in the system could be revived by the provision of justice to little Aiman. Scores of university students of Handwara, IUST Awantipora, in different areas of Kashmir, protested against the barbaric incident of mankind that took place in Bandipora. These protests against the gruesome rape incident hit the streets in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramullah District, Moomin Abad Batmoloo, Kupwara, Pattan Chanabal, Mirgund, Utter Kreeri and Hygam. These protestors got involved in the clash with Indian troops, who in turn fired them with tear gas and ballets. Indian police fire smoke shells towards protestors at Mirgund Pattan on the outskirts of Indian administered Kashmir’s Srinagar as protestors called for justice in the case of the rape of a three year old girl. Meanwhile a complete shutdown is being observed in parts of Sopore with all the business establishments closed. 

Officials condemned this tragic incident and directed the special investigation team to complete the investigation of Bandipora rape case on fast track basis so that the culprit is brought to justice. They are in the view that the crimes against women were already creating insecurity to half of the population of Kashmir and now the tragic cases of minors being molested and raped started reporting. It’s the question on the accountability and accuracy of law and order in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Incidents like these urge us to think that what sort of the world are we living in where a girl is neither safe inside the womb nor anywhere in the world. Existence of such beasts in our society will continue to haunt women of Kashmir at each and every step of their life, reminding them about events like these by intense societal rejections, humiliation, guilt, shame and trauma. These incidents are stains on the social, spiritual fabric and rich culture of Kashmir.

The writer is a researcher at Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR).