Srinagar: Over two decades after the mass rape and torture at Kunan Poshpora on 23/24 February 1991, the Indian Army (through Ministry of Defence, Union of India) has petitioned the Indian Supreme Court challenging orders of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on investigations and compensation.
In December 2014, Government of Jammu and Kashmir had challenged the same High Court orders before the Supreme Court on the issue of compensation, and got a stay on the orders. Union of India chose not to respond to this petition despite being given time and opportunity to do so and wasted one year of the courts and survivors time. The Supreme Court heard the fresh army petition on 13 May 2016, issued notice and tagged both petitions to be now heard before the court together. Besides the above two petitions in the Supreme Court, there are three petitions pending before the Jammu Kashmir High Court: one by the survivors seeking investigations and prosecution, and two by the army, against the implementation of the State Human Rights Commission recommendations in this case, and, against the police investigations ordered by the Judicial Magistrate, Kupwara on 18 June 2013.
The army has contended before the Supreme Court that the allegations of rape and torture are “a hoax orchestrated by militant groups”, “part of cleverly contrived strategy of psychological warfare”, to “discredit the security forces by indulging in false propaganda”, “with a view to jeopardize the conduct of counter insurgency operations…in the valley”, and that the numbers of men and women alleged to have been tortured and raped are against “natural human conduct”.
The army petition before the Supreme Court is the latest attempt by the State to delay proceedings and frustrate every attempt of the survivors for justice. To date, six victims of rape and torture have died.
According to Coalition of Civil Society Jammu Kashmir the survivors of Kunan Poshpora, in their continuing struggle for justice, will now submit their response before the Supreme Court and seek for investigations and prosecution of the accused army personnel, in addition to all those involved in the cover up including then Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Wajahat Habibullah and members of the then Press Council of India.