RIYAZ UL KHALIQ
A seminar on Kunan mass rape incident was held in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi Tuesday afternoon. Hosted by ‘Subject Association’ of Department of Political Science, Human Rights defender Gautam Navlakha chaired the session while Journalist Sukumar Muralidharan, Lawyer Warisha Farasat and Writer Uzma Falak were the speakers at the event.
The seminar was titled “Two Decades after Kunan Poshpora – State Violence, Legality and Justice”.
In his presidential address, Gautam Navlakha said, “if Right to Self Determination can be held in Scotland, Chegoslavakia why not in Kashmir; why those Democrats in 21st century RSD in Kashmir?”
He said that the Kunan Poshpora is not just a sexual violence but a crime.
Pertinently, 60 women were allegedly raped in intervening night of 23 and 24 February in 1991 in Kunan village of Kupwara in North Kashmir.
Gautam said that Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of 1947 partition. “The problem goes back to 1847-48 when Kashmiris were sold to a Dogra,” he said. He said that Kashmir dispute has been reduced to just a human rights problem. “It is humanitarian issue.”
He said, “Forces are subjected to criticism when they are deployed against their own people. There is no difference of good army and bad army.”
“When you send a 95% Hindu army in a Muslim majority area, you are sending them a message,” Gautam said.
Gautam asked Kashmiris to recognize and support other movements. “It would be failing if Kashmiris don’t stand and support other movement.”
In his speech, Journalist Muralidharan said that nations have an act of forgetting and an act of remembering.
“Nations require some incidents to be shared while they forget other incidents,” he said. “Nations come in to existence by the action of violence.”
He further said that state can’t be held under law because it forms the laws. “But, yes individuals have to follow the course of law.”
He said that laws like AFSPA don’t hamper the justice delivery system. “It is actually the constitution which formulates such laws,” he said.
Lawyer Warisha Farasat noted that every institution in Kashmir is ‘compromised’. “In democracies, there is division of state and governance – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary which keeps check and balance in a governing system but coming to Kashmir, everything changes.”
“There is judicial impunity,” she said.
Writer Uzma Falak after reading ‘testimonies’ of Kunan Mass Rape victims said that Kashmiris shall not cease to struggle for their rights. “We shall strive for our rights and we will continue to do so,” she said in response to a question.
“State tried many mechanisms to make victims to forget such incidents but it failed because Kashmiris will not forget,” she said.
She said that the Kunan incident was not any random incident. “It was a planned and systematic. It was planned. Army came cordoned off the village. Men were forced out of the village and then the heinous crime was carried out.”
She asserted, “Nature of the violence was very public. They vindicated the power of the perpetrator.”
She further said that sexual violence in Kashmir is not restricted to women only but men to have been subjected to this crime.