The alleged mass rape of women by army men in 1991 in Kunan-Poshpora, a remote village of North Kashmir, has again caught attention of people after state high court sought legal justifications from a civil society group for accepting their demand of reinvestigating the case.
The high court asked a group of women, who have filed a PIL seeking directions from court for reinvestigations, to answer its two points on the maintainability of the petition.
“Can a matter be agitated 22 years after it has happened and, second, tell us if the PIL is a medium to implement the SHRC verdict?” the court wanted to know.
On October 19, 2011, a division bench of SHRC had asked the government to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for re-opening the case and had also recommended to prosecute the then director prosecution for “deliberately scuttling” the investigation into the matter and seeking closure on the grounds that the perpetrators were “untraced”.
The PIL by the group wanted action “on the horrific gang rape in Kunan Poshpora on the intervening night of 23rd and 24th February 1991 by the Indian armed forces “.
“ We, through this PIL, sought the immediate reopening and reinvestigation of a case where more than 40 Kashmiri women were brutally raped. We sought accountability for a case which the Government has sought to ignore and bury. There have been consistent efforts to ensure impunity for the 4th Rajputana Rifles personnel responsible for the crime,” it said.
“In October 2011, the SHRC confirmed the crime, passed necessary recommendations including the re-opening and re-investigation of the case, and institution of criminal proceedings against the then director of prosecutions for closing the case.
As usual, the State refused to act. One and a half years have passed and the State has displayed a cruel disregard for a crime whose consequences continue to date,” the petitioners pleaded.
The petitioners also sought to initiate proceedings against the members of the Press Council of India, who, as per PIL, had covered up the matter of the mass rape in Kunan-poshpora.
A Press Council of India committee led by BG Verghese and Vikram Rao had visited valley after the incident and had given a “clean chit to the soldiers”.