Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has issued a press release here saying,
“On 4th March, the Chairperson for State Commission for Women, Ms. Nayeema Mehjoor at a book launch for her book, ‘Lost in Terror’ talked about being ‘hopeful’ about rehabilitating the victims of Kunan Poshpora and Dardpora widows by the ruling PDP government. This statement comes 26 years after the mass rape in Kunan Poshpora by 4th Rajputana Rifles, and a continuous denial of justice, and maligning of the women by the state by successive governments in the state. The case has been used by the governments in power and opposition to further their own political agendas. The J & K High Court order of monitoring reinvestigation of the case and payment of compensation to the victims was challenged in the Supreme Court of India by the State and Union of India. It is very important to mention some facts in the light of the statement given by the SCW Chairperson.
- The State Commission for Women is an autonomous body that should work for providing assistance to the victims, whether the perpetrator is a civilian, or the State itself. The SCW has failed to do so in case of Kunan Poshpora and the present Chairperson cannot speak on behalf of the government which in this case is the perpetrator. The SCW should hold the state to account before talking about rehabilitation.
- The state has, as stated above challenged the J&K High Court ruling in SC, all the time denying that mass rapes ever took place in Kunan Poshpora. What is the point in legally denying the rapes and then acknowledging them by talking about rehabilitation of the victims? Also the first step in the case should be the withdrawal of the case from the SC as a gesture of acknowledging the crime that the people of Kunan Poshpora have been fighting against for the last 26 years. Rehabilitation will come later.
- The present CM, Mehbooba Mufti met with the villagers of Kunan Poshpora in late September and it was directly conveyed to her that the first thing the government could do if at all it was earnest in its offer for help would be to stop creating legal hurdles for the victims and withdraw the case from the SC. It hasn’t happened even when the CM assured all help to the victims, how then will the rehabilitation happen?
- The reparations and damages for the huge losses that the villagers have suffered emotionally, socially, physically and economically is the right of the survivors and nobody can do it as a ‘favour’to them, especially when the compensation to victims is what the state has been using to shame the women, calling them ‘greedy for money’. The victims have every right to go to the court of law to see their perpetrators face trial. That is precisely what they have been saying and fighting for legally and otherwise for 26 years now.
The villagers have maintained that for them to see their perpetrators punished is of prime importance, they have resisted and fought a long drawn legal battle to ensure that those who committed the crime do not rest easy. The state on the other hand has been involved in cover ups and shaming of the victims, often offering them money and intimidating them to withdraw from the case. We know that the state uses rehabilitation just as another gimmick to feign sympathy with the victims even as it continues to challenge the victims and their truth in the court of law. “