KUNAN POSHPORA: THE STRUGGLE MUST BE SUPPORTED

Statement issued by issued by JKCCS (Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society)

For 22 years, the villagers of Kunan Poshpora have lived with injustice. For 22 years, civil society and human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, social workers, and Indians, came, heard their story, clicked their pictures, and left. There have been contributions along the way, but, mostly, it has been 22 years of absolute and continued injustice.

The order of the Judicial Magistrate, Kupwara on 18 June 2013 for further investigations is an achievement. It is an achievement for a people who did not forget for 22 years. Yes, it is the same Jammu and Kashmir Police which will carry out further investigations. Yes, it is the same Indian army from whom “co-operation” for investigations will be sought. The army has consistently refused to cooperate with investigations. Yes, in 23 years, the Indian State has not granted sanction for prosecution [a stage and a fight that is looming ahead] for a single case against the armed forces. The Indian Supreme Court in its Pathribal decision does not make an exception for even rape and considers allegations of rape as being part of the official act and thereby requiring sanction. All this is known and understood. But, struggle and resist one still must. Not to repose confidence in the State, but to push it, and along the way expose it as not being willing to provide justice, thereby strengthening the argument for a turn to international law. The engagement with the processes seeks to expose how the domestic remedies are illusionary and meant to exhaust and frustrate. This engagement seeks to unveil and unmask the Indian State. It is clear that the people of Kunan Poshpora understand this, and will continue the fight. But, will we?

Will we choose to question the point of it all, or will we step forward [in whatever capacity] and stand by them? Will we limit ourselves to only abusing the Indian State and its political project in Jammu and Kashmir, or will we face the Indian State in its seemingly more innocuous forms [the courtroom, the police station, the government lawyer…] and fight?

Today, we commit: We will fight. We will not forget. We will not forgive. We will monitor the police investigations. We will extend absolute and complete support to the people of Kunan Poshpora when dealing with the further investigations. We commit to hold accountable anyone who supported the atrocities in Kunan Poshpora in February 1991, or stood by silently, or chose to cover up the truth. To begin with, we urge that B.G. Verghese [who headed the Press Council of India team that covered up the crimes and sought to malign the survivors of Kunan Poshpora] and other such individuals be declared persona non grata by civil society and be boycotted until they are criminally prosecuted and handed out appropriate punishments. These individuals must be socially and professionally boycotted.

For us, the Kunan Poshpora case, from petitioners before the High Court to the present stage, has been a journey of frustration, anger and great learning. We understand this is only the beginning. The struggle will continue.

Representatives of the Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora
1. Benish Ali
2. Essar Batool
3. Fozia Nazir
4. Haney Tahseen
5. Ifrah Mushtaq
6. Nazima Durrani
7. Rehanna Qadir
8. Samreena Mushtaq
9. Usvah Rizvi
10. Uzafa Basu
11. Uzma Qureshi

Srinagar, 22 June 2013

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