Kashmir is not a Graveyard

Ali Sukhanver

Shakurbasti is an area in the northwest of Delhi; a few days back this area became the focus of all attention because of a really unbelievable, really a shocking incident. A 27-year old man raped his eight-month-old cousin; a baby-girl. The incident is no doubt another blob of shame for the Shinning India where rape is never dealt as a crime.

According to the details published in different newspapers of India, the eight-month-old baby girl was raped by her relative Suraj when she was alone in her home on Sunday, 28th January this year. The doctors at the Kalawati Saran Hospital later performed a three-hour-long operation on the girl. The girl is still battling for her life, sources say. But unfortunately for the Indian society this is neither a shocking nor an unbelievable incident though people there from every walk of life are strongly condemning and criticizing this brutal act. It is true that the whole nation must not be held responsible for a personal or an individual act but things become painful when sometimes such acts are provided an ‘official shelter’.

Most of us and most of the people in India would not have forgotten 23rd February 1991, certainly a black day for the people living in the Indian Held Kashmir. That was the day when the government of India provided a legal shelter to 144 soldiers of its army who were involved in rape of more than 60 women in the valleys of Kunan and Poshpura in Kupwara district of Kashmir. Those who survived this brutality are still fighting and looking for justice. Every year different seminars and conferences are organized by different human rights organizations in which these survivors narrate the tale of sexual brutality they had to face on that horrible night of 23rd February, 1991. Last year, a seminar on the same topic was organized by an NGO in Srinagar in which some women publicly recounted the horrors of that night; the narration brought tears into the eyes of most of the participants.
They all cursed the soldiers of 4th Rajputana Rifles of the Indian Army’s 68th Brigade who entered the villages like hunters and ruined the lives of helpless women. Syed Mohammad Yasin, the Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara in 1991 was also present there. He told the participants with tearful eyes, “I was shocked to see the plight of the women … A woman told me that she was kept under jackboots by the soldiers while her daughter and daughter-in-law were being raped before her eyes. A pregnant woman was not spared either.” Ghulam Ahmed Dar is also one of those who are eye-witness to this brutality. His niece and his wife were also among the raped ones. He said talking to the media, “I could hear my wife’s cries as soldiers raped her while their comrades started beating me, giving me electric shocks and pushing my head into a bucket of chilies.” He further said, “For years, unmarried village girls could not find suitable grooms because of the social stigma of rape. Young boys even now drop out of school unable to bear the questions of classmates.” According to the media reports, many of the alleged victims, who were middle-aged mothers then and are grannies now, say they don’t know what to say when their young grandchildren ask about that night. They say that a very painful reality is the silence of Indian civil society on Kunan-Poshpura tragedy.

As far as the Indian civil society is concerned, the major portion of this society comprises on very learned, moderate and civilized people. These people always stand with the aggrieved ones whenever there is any case of civil-rights violation. Rape is also one of the most horrible examples of human rights violation. Most of the people in India would never forget the horrible night of 16th December 2012. That was the night when a 23 years old girl Jyoti Singh was brutally gang-raped in a bus going to Dwarka from Delhi and then thrown out of the moving bus. She could not bear the agony, insult, disgrace and certainly the physical injuries and died after fighting with death for more than twelve days on 29th December. Jyoti had a dream of becoming a physiotherapist but she did not have the required resources to fulfill her dream that is why she was working nights in an IBM call centre. Expectedly or unexpectedly, the incident received ever-worst reaction from the Indian society. People thronged the roads and blocked the traffic in protest, against this brutality.

The government had to take a seriously prompt action and the culprits behind the crime were arrested soon. Some analysts are of the opinion that this all was the result of an uncontrollable public pressure or reaction of the civil-society. But astonishing is the fact that the Indian civil society shows no such reaction when the ‘aggrieved’ ones are from the Indian–Held Kashmir. Particularly in case of Kunan-Poshpura rape incident, where more than 60 women lost their chastity, no one in Delhi or Mumbai thronged the streets in protest. It seems that inwardly the Indian civil society has not accepted the people of Kashmir as a part of it but on the other hand the government of India keeps on harping on the same string, “Kashmir is our Atoot Ang.” It is really a very strange contradiction that the people and the government are moving in two opposite directions in the matter of Kashmir. Why are not the people of Kashmir given an independent choice of deciding their fate and their future; it is also an important question. Every 5th February, we the people of Pakistan try to make the world realize that the people of the Indian-Held Kashmir are a living nation; they must not be treated as dead-bodies. They must be allowed to live a life of their own choice and own liking.

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