Kunan Poshpora: Largest recorded incident of statutory offense in South Asian history

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23rd February, 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the mass rape and torture in twin villages of Kunan and Poshpora in Kupwara district of Kashmir.

That is the biggest recorded incident of sexual assault in South Asian history. This case stands to be a chilling example of the political and judicial impunity enjoyed by Indian Armed Forces in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, under the facade of Indian democracy.

Every year since 2014, 23 rd February is commemorated as Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day, inspired by the struggles of the survivors of mass rape and torture Kunan and Poshpora, on the evening of 23 rd February 1990. The 2 and half decades–lengthy battle of the survivors from Kunan and Poshpora is part of the bigger on-going battle in Jammu and Kashmir, against the institutionalized and structural violence of the Indian state in the region.

The Union of India filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court of India in 2014 challenging the interim orders of the Jammu & Kashmir  High Court of 2014 to pay the compensation to victims and of the Kupwara District Court for the reinvestigation in this case. The judiciary stayed the reinvestigation and the cost of compensation. Even the order passed by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) was stayed by the High Court, which had also recommended for holding the reinvestigation and payment of compensation. There are 5 petitions relating to Kunan Poshpora case pending before the High Court and the Supreme Court of India since 2014, three of which have been filed by the Indian army, which has denied justice to the victims to date. Presently the matter is stuck between the 2 Courts. In the process, 6 survivors/witnesses have already died.

It seems it is very unlikely that the Kunan Poshpora victims will get justice within their lifetime because the investigation has stayed and after investigation, the sanction is an issue before the Indian Defence Ministry which has not granted sanctions to a single case up to now. Kunan Poshpora mass rape and torture case was reported broadly by more than 300 HR organizations and journalists all over the world, despite that justice seems to be a mirage for the victims.

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