"They make it a desolation and call it a peace" - with this line by a Kashmiri-American poet reflecting his thoughts on his state, a Delhi-based women's group sums up its report on the Shopian rape and murder of two women that triggered a massive furore in the Kashmir Valley this year. Findings of the IWIJ report
The Independent Women's Initiative for Justice (IWIJ) in its report released on Thursday alleges that the Jammu and Kashmir government is involved in a major hush-up of the rape-murder of the two women in May this year.
The IWIJ, which conducted its independent findings into the incident, wonders if the "facts of what happened to the two women before their bodies appeared in a nallah (stream) will ever be known".
The IWIJ report comes against the backdrop of the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) leaked findings, which reportedly ruled out foul play in the deaths and said that the women had drowned. The CBI is to submit its report to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Monday.
According to the CBI's leaked report, which appeared in the Srinagar media, the two women had drowned May 29 in a stream in Shopian where their bodies were found a day later. This finding corroborates the first statement of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the incident. He later said he had been misled by the Shopian district administration and police.
However, the IWIJ has contested the CBI's findings and maintains that during its team's visit to Shopian in August it found that the water in the stream was only ankle-deep - not enough for anybody to drown in it.
"As for accidental drowning of the two women in the nallah, where no one in recent or living memory has ever drowned, we would need to be more than merely credulous to believe that," the IWIJ report says, alleging that the state government and police are involved in hushing up the case.
The two women were found dead May 30, triggering a major uprising in the Kashmir Valley this summer. Shopian town, 50 km from Srinagar, observed a 47-day shutdown before the state government announced a one-man inquiry commission.
The inquiry commission alleged that four police officers were involved in rubbing off some of the key evidence following which they were suspended and arrested. The case was then handed over to the CBI in September.
Though the CBI is yet to file its report, media reports indicate that the central probe team has concluded that the women died of drowning.
"How is that possible?" asked Seema Mishra, a Delhi-based lawyer and one of the IWIJ members who visited the valley in August on a fact-finding mission.
"We don't conclude anything, but there is a major cover-up. The government perhaps doesn't want an ugly scene that may sabotage the ongoing peace process. Why don't they understand that you are pushing Kashmiris more into fanaticism, to militancy by denying justice?" Usha Ramanathan of the IWIJ said, speaking to reporters.
"Two woman sacrificed at the altar of national security. No matter that the guilty are unlikely ever to be found. It is not just that two women were buried, exhumed and buried again. Justice itself is well and truly buried all across the state - in Shopian for certain," she said.
The report ends with the quotation of Agha Shahid Ali, a Kashmiri American poet: "They make it a desolation an call it peace."