PIL Filed To Re-Open Kunan Poshpora Case

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Can Petition Help In Implementing SHRC Decision: Asks HC

SRINAGAR: Taking up cudgels on behalf of the victims of the Kunan Poshpora mass rape by the army in 1991, a group of Kashmiri women has moved the High Court seeking re-investigation of the horrific crime that sent shock waves across the world.  

Reserving its decision to admit it, a division bench of Justices Ali Muhammad Magray and Mansoor Ahmad Mir on Monday nevertheless held a preliminary hearing of a petition filed under Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by 11 women representatives of the over forty victims subjected to the worst imaginable atrocity 22 years ago during the early years of militancy. 

 “We have sought accountability for a case which the government has sought to ignore and bury,” the petitioners said today. “There have been consistent efforts to ensure impunity for the personnel of the 4 Rajputana Rifles rifles responsible for the crime.”  

The shame and taint of the mass rape hanging over the Indian armed forces and the Indian government ever since the night of February 23, 1991 has only deepened in the long passing years during which no state institution has attempted to bring the guilty to book.

The victims, ranging from minors to women in their seventies, have been consigned to a life of trauma and suffering, worsened by the lack of judicial redress, and the deliberate impunity and immunity granted to the perpetrators.

The Indian state’s pathetic pretence at investigation was closed many years ago.

Recommendations by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), on a petition filed in October 2011, to re-open the case and institute criminal proceedings against the then director of prosecutions have been contemptuously ignored by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Orders issued a decade earlier – after a police report was filed in March 1991 on the basis of a magisterial probe – by the then divisional commissioner for Kashmir, Wajahat Habibullah, to get the case investigated by a senior gazetted officer too have been sidelined by successive governments since.

In today’s hearing, the High Court asked the counsel for the petitioners, Parvez Imroz, whether a PIL could be remedy for implementing a decision of the Commission, and if it could be a remedy for a 22-year-old case.

Imroz, who also heads the J and K Coalition of Civil Society, has been asked to provide legal references to the questions in the next hearing scheduled for the coming week, the petitioners said in a statement.

Signed by Benish Ali, Eesaar Batool, Fauzia Nazir, Honey Tahseen, Ifra Mushtaq, Nazima Durrani, Sameena Mushtaq, Usvah Rizvi, Uzafa Basu, Uzma Qureshi, Rehana Qadir, the statement rued that such questions still have to be answered “despite the widely-reported information on the case, the numerous arguments on record before the Court, and (the fact that) suo moto cognisance of the case should have been taken year ago as recently done over the LPG issue.”            

“The state has refused to act even one-and-half years after the SHRC gave its recommendations, and displayed a cruel disregard for a crime whose consequences continue till date,” the petitioners said.

“We believe we have a responsibility to ensure that impunity for this crime ends. Therefore we have approached the High Court,” they said.

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