Kunan Poshpora:Court Grants Another ‘Last Opportunity’ To Army

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SRINAGAR: Members of civil society, the Village Committee, Kunan Poshpora and the Support Group for Kunan Poshpora visited Kupwara Sessions Court Thursday to observe and record the legal proceedings in the Kunan Poshpora case.

According to a joint statement, the visit was part ‘collective struggle’ to hold institutions accountable, to contest and expose what the statement called ‘lies and contradictions’ of both the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the armed forces besides showing solidarity with the survivors of mass rape and torture.

Pertinently on November 2013, the Indian army filed a criminal revision petition before the Principal Sessions Judge, Kupwara, challenging the order of 18th June 2013, passed by the Judicial Magistrate, Kupwara ordering further investigations in the Kunan Poshpora case. The petition maintains the 1991 position of the Indian army – that the allegations were concocted.

“Today, the army Standing Counsel, Karnail Singh, arrived early, and sought further time, despite having had five days to draft and submit objections”, the statement said. During the hearing before the Sessions Judge, the army was only represented by Major Kapil, of 16th Grenadiers, who was informed that the army had one last opportunity to file objections on 26th December 2013. Advocate Parvez Imroz appearing on behalf of the survivors, objected strongly to the army’s continuous ‘excuses and delaying tactics’, in a case where five of the victims had already died and twenty two years had passed without investigations. 

The judge felt constrained to grant the army further time, as the matter could not proceed when the petitioners counsel.

Following the hearing, members of civil society, the Village Committee of Kunan Poshpora, the Kunan Poshpora Support Group and local people gathered in a silent protest, holding up banners condemning the “denial of justice” by the Indian State and the “use of rape as a weapon of war” by armed forces. This protest took place outside the gates of the District Court, opposite the District Police Headquarters, and close to the Divisional Commissioner’s office, Kupwara. It was a show of solidarity, demonstrating that even when the court proceedings are moved to remote areas away from Srinagar in order to avoid publicity we will not abandon the struggle for truth and justice, the statement read.

“The Government of Jammu and Kashmir, through its silence and refusal to take a clear stand against the perpetrators is also complicit in this process. The Government must not be judged through its rhetorical statements, but based on its actions. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir is clearly more interested in supporting the perpetrators rather than victims/survivors”, it further alleged.

On June 18th 2013, the Magistrate’s court, Kupwara passed orders directing the police to further investigate the matter and submit its report within 3 months. A further time of three months was granted on 14th September.  This extension period expired yesterday. 

“The investigating officer, SP Abdul Jabbar has completely failed to investigate the matter in the last six months and is in contempt of court’s orders”, the statement said.  

“Even after 22 years, by asking for repeated extensions, and failing to complete effective investigations, the State is seeking to ensure that the victims of violations are fatigued by delay.  The fact is that the police has consistently failed to investigate a crime such as Kunan Poshpora, that was committed by the armed forces, demonstrates the collusion of all state actors and the structural realities of the Indian State. The Indian State has systematically denied the human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and specifically Kashmiri women’s rights against sexual violence. These delaying and diversionary tactics will not exhaust us or suppress our struggle for justice, but will make us more determined. We will fight until justice is done”.

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