Former Press Council of India (PCI) member and senior journalist BG Verghese on Monday described the accusations of systemic cover-up in the alleged 1991 Kashmir mass rape case as “baseless”. He said he stood by his report that “no mass rape took place”.
According to civil society members and families, on February 23, 1991, jawans of 4 Rajputana Rifles raped more than two dozen women in Kupwara’s Kunan and Poshpora villages. A PCI team headed by Verghese had given a clean chit to the security-men.
But on Sunday, a month after the army filed a plea to close the case, Syed Mohammad Yasin, then deputy commissioner of Kupwara, claimed he faced pressure to cover up the case. “Yasin’s statement is baseless. The man is a coward. It took him three days to go to the site, that too on the instructions of the then divisional commissioner Wajahat Habibullah,” Verghese told HT on phone from Delhi.
“I stand by my report. The accusation of mass rape is nothing but an exaggeration. There are just chances of inappropriate behaviour and molestation.”
On Sunday, Yasin had said in Srinagar that Verghese had asked him to save the soldiers in “national interest” and threatened him. “Even the special secretary tried to persuade me to close the case,” he said. Verghese said no proper inquiry was carried out in the case. “No medico-legal case was prepared. The women went for medical tests after more than a week, which was of no use. Two local policemen who visited the villages never submitted their report,” said Verghese.
“The number of the victims kept fluctuating between 20 and 200, which is unbelievable. There was a militant design behind it,” he added.