Srinagar: She looks frail but pensive. Her eyes become moist when you talk about that fateful night when Indian Army soldiers from 4th Rajputana Rifles allegedly beat her to pulp and tarnished her chastity. She stops while talking; however her brother continues to speak throwing enormous light on what happened in unfortunate village of Kunan Poshpora on 23rd of February 1991.
Kulsuma Banoo (name changed) who is 63 now was allegedly raped by 4 soldiers along with two other women in her room. Her brother Ghulam Ahmed Dar fails to control his emotions and he weeps bitterly. “We are being compensated. We are being asked to shut our mouth and accept large chunk of money but I want to tell these people who are at the helm of affairs, could an amount return the lost chastity of my sister who was 38 when ‘vandals’ stained her chastity.
With tearful eyes, Dar told news agency CNS that on February 23, 1991 at approximately 11:00PMsoldiers from the 4th Rajputana Rifles cordoned off our hamlet on the pretext of flushing out militants in the village. “Little did we know that our mother’s sisters and daughters will become the prey of ‘Vandals’? Nobody in the Village can forget that fateful night. I was just 22 then and I still remember we are forcibly dragged from our houses by the soldiers of 4th Rajputana Rifles. That time we didn’t know to which Company these soldiers were associated but there were two army camps then one was located in Thregam and another was at Panzgam,” Dar said.
Closing his eyes and stopping for a moment, Dar continues, “Soldiers, not soldiers but these Vandals flocked us like cattle. There is rivulet called Kamil and they threw us into that and beat us ruthlessly. Our women were locked up in their rooms and they gang raped a large number of village women overnight till9:00 in the morning,” he said.
“These men in uniform raped our sisters, mothers and daughters without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnant etc.,” The victims ranged in age from 13 to 80,”
As Dar continues, her 63 year old sister interrupts and says that she along with other women were ruthlessly beaten and then raped. “Whole night we were not allowed to put on our clothes. We were dying with cold but they were hitting us with gun butts and tarnishing our chastity. We were crying and no one was around to help us, “ She said.
Abdul Samad Dar, a resident of the village said that he was too young then but could not forget the miseries of his village women. “So many of our mothers, sisters and daughters were raped by Indian soldiers and still those culprits are roaming free. Justice has not been delivered yet. “Then District magistrate S.M. Yasin, in his final report stated that the soldiers “behaved like wild beasts and described the attack as :A large number of armed personnel entered into the houses of villagers and at gunpoint they gang-raped 23 ladies, without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnanant etc and there was a hue and cry in the whole village, “ he said and added that more than 80 women were raped on that fateful night.
Another villager, Abdul Rashid said that night army acted like beasts. “They beat us, raped our women and looted our houses. Later on they threatened our village heads of dire consequences if they revealed anything before any visiting officer,” he said.
Same story was repeated by so many men and women in the village. “About 15 victims have died so far while waiting for justice but dozens of women are still alive who can narrate you their sorrowful tales,” Fayaz Ahmed, a student said. (CNS)