Izhar Nazir Ali
A report released by The International Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir (IPTK), a human rights group has revealed widespread brute and bone chilling tales of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by the uniformed men and their local collaborators upon Kashmiri men and women during their counter insurgency operations. Ironically local gunmen hired by the government for counter insurgency operations are known as ´Government Gunmen´ in Kashmir.
Molestation, rape, electric shocks and burning of private parts using chillies and polythene are the commonly used methods adopted by the armed forces and the government sponsored gunmen to torture men and women, young and old for their alleged militant links, reveals the human rights report made public recently. “Structures of Violence: The Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir”, that was released by group and affiliate organization The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons on September 9,2015.
Based on the testimonies of the victims, the 804-page report contains 13 cases of sexual abuse and 49 cases of torture.
Two of the gruesome case studies listed at number 3 and 5, in the report are from Baramulla and Anantnag districts of north and south Kashmir allegedly involving army and the government sponsored gunmen popularly known as ´Ikhwanis´.
According to the report based on official details, on January 26, 1994, soldiers of army´s counter insurgency 2 RR left a weapon outside a residential house in Sipan village during patrolling. The rifle was taken by three unidentified men, even as the housewife pleaded them not to do so. The unknown men also took the house owner along.
“Then five army persons came and tortured the woman in the house of her neighbour Gul Sheikh. They inserted chillies in her vagina left her in pain. She was later taken to the police line Anantnag, where she was medically examined and her statement was recorded,” says the report.
The report identifies the alleged perpetrators as Subedar Rattan Singh, Lance Naiks Pretam Singh and Karan Singh.
The police had filed a case Fir No 29/1994 under sections 307 (Attempt to murder) 354 (Assault/ Criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage modesty) 342 (wrongful confinement) of Ranbir Penal Code against the accused soldiers.
Police in two separate communications had stated that a charge sheet into this case has been submitted and the case file sent for sanction for prosecution under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). However, it also states that no response has been received from the Defence Ministry.
In some what similar case, a minor girl was subjected to sexual violence by the soldiers of Palhallan camp and the government sponsored gunmen after lifted from her house in year 1996. The victim, who is a housewife now, has told the IPTK in June this year, how she and her brother were tormented for being neighbours of a Hizbul Mujahideen militant.
“First, the gunmen, on the instructions of Major Sinha, stripped her. Then they beat her with sticks and ran a roller over her legs. Later, they poured melting polythene into her vagina due to which she fell unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she realized bleeding,” the report quotes the victim as saying.
Due to the torture, the victim has had difficulties in conceiving children, and has suffered multiple abortions. 19 years on, she continued to receive treatment at various hospitals.
Before subjecting her to torture, Major Sinha alias Liyaqat Ali, and his local collaborators Lateef, wife of Ama Waza, a government sponsored gunmen and another woman, had asked her to reveal the details of her neighbor, a Hizb militant.
“Major Sinha had also offered her a reward of Rs 1 lakh for providing information. She told the officer that she knows nothing about it. She also learnt that her school going brother too has been abducted.”
Her brother, who runs a shop now, told the interviewees that he was picked up by government sponsored gunmen Abdul Shaban Tantray and Abdul Rasheed in the autumn of 1996 when he was on way to school to attend farewell party and taken to Major Sinha.
The three later took him to the army camp located in a Pandit house in Palhallan, where Ghulam Mohammad Wala alias Amma Waza, Mohammad Lateef Mir alias Jarra, Abdur Rashid, Riyaz Ahmad and another Ikhwanis nicknamed Saeb, tortured him.
“A roller was run over his legs and stomach by two men on each side. His toes, feet and private parts were given electric shocks. His head was immersed in chilly water while 2-3 men stood at his back. He was also hung upside down,” the report quoting the victim says.
On the third day of his abduction, the victim says that he was taken into another Pandit house by Subedar Mohan Singh. There, he saw his sister in a horrible condition with her feet covered with blood.
“Guard commander Shravan Singh was also there. The victim was told to reveal the information of militants and give up possession of arms,” says the exhaustive report prepared over the last two years.
After their release following intervention of a relative, the siblings and other family members were driven out by army for five consecutive days. The soldiers and gunmen, report says, also
The report has named 8 alleged perpetrators, including 3 army officers and 5 Ikhwanis in the sexual assault and torture of Palhalan siblings.
Khurram Parvez, the co-author of the report says that the number of cases of sexual violence were higher than the documented ones. He said most victims don´t come forward due to various reasons.
“The victims always have a fear of reprisal for the perpetrators. They fear if they speak the truth, they and their families might be hounded again,” says Khurram.
Besides the fear from perpetrators, social stigma and hopelessness from the judiciary too, he said were major factors that prevent the victims of sexual violence from coming out in open.
“Had there been a single conviction in the cases of sexual violence, many victims would have deposed their faith in judiciary. However, they feel hopeless and hapless,” he added.