“We were getting ready for bed when the soldiers came. They took the men away. Some started drinking alcohol. I was holding my two-year-old daughter in my arms when they tried to grab me. I resisted, and in the scuffle, she fell out of my arms, and out of the window. She was crippled for life. Three soldiers grabbed me, tore my pheran, my shirt – I don’t even know what all happened after that. There were five of them. I still remember their faces.”
Speaking to BBC News, one of the survivors of the mass rape recalls the horrific night that keeps haunting her to this day. What’s distressing is that it’s not the story of one night where one woman was subjected to this inhumane brutal behaviour, but it holds similarity with thousands of women who have suffered in one of the most militarized places on Earth.
Although, it is not the first case of its nature as brutal human history has seen that times after times just like guns and bullets, rape is also used as a weapon of war. More than 25 years ago, Indian soldiers allegedly raped 30 women and tortured their men in Kashmir villages of Kunan and Poshpora. The people of the area claim that the Indian army carries out planned mass rapes of women and they have been fighting for justice for nearly 3 decades now.
While speaking to BBC News in Srinagar, Minister in State Government, Naeem Akhtar spoke about the issue saying that in conflicts like Kashmir, the truth often gets obscured by a layer of dust on it but some women are determined to get justice and wipe the dust away. After ages of turning a deaf ear and blind eyes to this side of the brutality Kashmiris face in 2013, some women filed a petition to reopen the case in State High court. Natasha Rathar is one of those women whose name was on the petition. Not to forget that Natasha, along with four fellow Kashmiri women is the author of an award-winning book on the case called ‘Do you Remember Kunan Poshpora’.
Natasha said that her motivation for re-opening the case is simple and that in this particular case of mass rape, the affected women themselves have shown so much courage to speak about it. She said that there was a piece of huge evidence and the case had to be reopened while on the other hand Indian army denies the allegations saying that the case has been independently investigated three times and was closed due to lack of evidence.
The case, however, was reopened and after a lengthy and hard process, Jammu and Kashmir High court directed the State Government to pay compensation to the victims. The State Government initially agreed but later deviated and challenged the decision in the Supreme Court of India where the case is yet to see its final decision.
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