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What made them file the PIL after 22 years

SRINAGAR, INDIAN OCCUPIED KASHMIR: A public interest litigation [PIL] was recently filed by 50 young Kashmiri women seeking action on the gang rape in Kunan Poshpora that took place on the intervening night of 23rd / 24th February 1991 by the Indian armed forces. This reporter spoke to a number of young women who formed the part of the 50 member team.

Besides seeking immediate reopening and reinvestigating of Kunan Poshpora gang rape case that remains the main motive of all 50 women in unison, every member holds a diverse opinion. This reporter gets you the individual story behind what prompted these young women some of whom were yet to be born when the crime took place to file a petition after 22 years.

Uzma Qureshi, Student Masters in Social Work (MSW) and Volunteer Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS): I believe a culture of silence has been imposed on us through fear of and threat by the forces of oppression. This mass rape was a gruesome act that traumatized every one. For how long we have to mourn for our approaching death? I believe we are the generation who need to break the shackles of silence and let justice exist. The reason why I am a part of the team is to sensitize people how army sexually harasses our women which are covered up by concocted stories to shield the perpetrators. For me, the purpose is to awaken collective consciousness of masses that how justice is delay and denied every time in Kashmir.

Haney Tahseen, Student Masters in Social Work (MSW) and Volunteer Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS): What can be miserable than the fact that these women of Kunan Poshpora have been waiting for justice since more than two decades. Nobody remembers Kunan Poshpora for anything other than the infamous gang rape incident. The incident has attached a stigma on the whole village. There are many reasons why I joined the 50 member team one being that the society must get conscious enough to fight for injustice. We as a society should stand for ourselves. It is the high time, justice should be done and it’s a battle we won’t quit till justice is done to Kunan Poshpora victims. Its time we realize, undone task is to be done.

Samreen Mushtaq, Social Worker and Volunteer Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS): This case is the biggest example of grave human rights violation. It has time and again appeared that the state administration and army officials are trying to white wash the incident. When rapes are committed in India, it sets Verma Committee and when the same happens in Kashmir, the state provides impunity to the perpetrators. This should not be allowed that is why I am a part of this petition. If this is allowed to succeed then we have no right to call ourselves as civilized members of civilized society. Story of army atrocities from the valley are coming to the fore and again but it is not known to the public whether any punishment has been inflicted on the guilty army officials. To ensure such incidents must not happen, the perpetrators must be punished.

Fozia Nazir, Student Masters in Social Work (MSW) and Volunteer Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS): It’s been 22 years since this incident happened and hoping for justice has left the victims hopeless over these years, particularly being at the receiving end of the callous state. The victims have now lost their interest in fighting for their right to justice. I along with the other 49 member team intend to fight for Kunan Poshpora till justice is delivered. Once the justice is done, the hope they have lost might get rekindled. I addition, I joined this team for the sake of protecting of my laws being a woman myself. It happened 22 years back, and I don’t want it to ever happen again. I want to make sure I live in a secure atmosphere.

Usvah Zehra Rizvi, Student Masters in Social Work (MSW) and Volunteer Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS): The victims of Kunan Poshpora are thirsty for justice since 22 years. They have faced troubles, met difficulties and lead a miserable life. And nobody has actually come forward to relieve them off their pain. My heart goes out to the woman who has been raped, gang raped. Being a woman I understand when a woman is full of distress how she perceives herself. It is such a heinous misdeed that even if we take a legal action towards the criminal involved, that too won’t minimize the pain a woman has suffered. And here the women of Kunan Poshpora have been denied justice; one can only imagine the pain they might be having within. I stand with the women of Kunan Poshpora in their pain and sorrow that is why I joined the 50 member team to file a PIL.

Ifrah Butt, Student Bachelors in Social Work (BSW) and Volunteer Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS): What disturbs me is the claim by the Indian Government that the Kunan Poshpora incident was a ‘well-concocted bundle of lies’. I wonder how can a whole village lie or even exaggerate the facts about the esteem of their women. This is unacceptable; such statements add salt to the wounds. Whatever happened 22 years back cannot be forgotten and never forgiven. Filing a PIL is small initiative meant to highlight the case and subsequently seek justice. My decision of joining other in filing PIL is primarily to remove the ‘raped village’ tag on Kunan Poshpora and to bring back the lost hope.

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