The event scheduled for the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the Kunan Poshpora Mass Rape and Torture that occurred on the intervening night of 23rd and 24th February 1991 – the largest recorded instance of mass sexual assault in South Asia– has been banned. The Support Group had formally applied for the permission to the office of the Deputy Commissioner (District Magistrate), Srinagar to hold this event at a local hotel. Today (22nd Feb’17), a member of the Support Group was telephonically informed by police officials to collect the permission order from the office of the DC, Srinagar. However, on reaching there, we were informed that the permission had been denied on the basis of a FAX communication from the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, ‘that there is an apprehension of law and order problem when the issue of Kunan Poshpora is raised during the event’. A copy of the FAX is annexed to this statement. A signed copy of the official denial order by the DC was refused despite several requests, after having waited for three hours, until the closing of the office at 5:15 p.m. This is symptomatic of the State’s attempts to completely clampdown on events relating to human rights violations, particularly sexual violence. This attitude was also seen during the banning of the press conference, which was to be addressed by the mother of the Handwara minor girl, in April 2016.
In the scheduled event, the survivors from Kunan Poshpora and members of the Support Group for the struggle were to apprise the participants about the legal proceedings of the case in the Supreme Court and remember the seven victims of that night of rape and torture who have passed away. By denying permission for the event the State has put on display its regressive behavior of regulating public spaces and curbing any conversation on critical human rights issues faced by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This is in line with the State’s approach of clamping down the civil and political rights of the people to assemble freely, and express their thoughts and opinions. As is evident in its unresponsiveness towards the order of the High Court to file a response to the pending petition on bans on private events.
As we have seen in the past, the State’s attitude towards the struggle for justice for Kunan Poshpora has been driven by attempts to cover up the inhuman crimes committed against the people of Kunan Poshpora. It took the Police twenty-three (23) years to file the closure report, followed by the refusal of the State to conduct investigations and repeated applications for extension. The case is currently stalled in the Supreme Court Registry for the last two and a half years, due to constant dilatory tactics of the State and Indian Army. Furthermore, the banning of this commemoration event, aimed at highlighting the continuing miscarriage of justice in the Kunan Poshpora case, is the latest in a long history of cover-ups, intimidation and silencing.
Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora
Kashmir: Do you remember Kunan Poshpora? Surviving rape and collective resistance
Kashmir, Ifrah Butt interview: Uteruses had to be removed after mass rape at Kunan Poshpora, author call for justice
Kashmir: Essar Batool is challenging the “state narrative” on Kunan Poshpora, where is accountability for mass rape and torture?
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.