Even though over 53 women gave statement to human rights investigators accusing the Indian army men of gang raping them in Kunan Poshpora villages of Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir, army gave a clean chit to its men. Several video documentaries show the victims weeping and beating their chest when they recall the night and clearly mention that “army men” raped and abused them, but army refuted their transparent claims.
However, to save its men, the same army used a video statement of a schoolgirl, who could be seen refuting the allegations that an army man tried to molest her in Handwara town recently. The audio-visual statement mysteriously appeared on internet, a few hours after two young civilians succumbed to bullet injuries. In an e-mail to journalists, an army spokesperson attached the same video, with face of the girl blurred, and stated, “The truth from Handwara: the girl, purportedly molested by an army soldier, exposes the malicious intent of perpetrators.”
Take a note of it – the army called it “truth” – and the Indian media followed. There was no probe done into the allegations and a video statement was enough for them to acquit the army man. Moreover, the source and authenticity of the video was highly doubtful as both police and army refused to have captured the video, and the girl and her father were reportedly in police custody since then. No one was allowed to meet them.
Although the leaked video is itself seen as a human rights violation, but the way Indian army and media used it to give army a clean chit raises questions that why the two agencies did not, in a similar way, consider unambiguous audio-visual statements of Kunan Poshpora rape victims as the ultimate truth. It is clearly evident that what is favourable to them, is ‘truth’, and what is against them is ‘false’.
Let us look into Kunan Poshpora incident. On 23 February 1991, at least 150 army men reportedly launched a search operation in the area. Men were kept out of their houses for the whole night, while women were gang raped and assaulted throughout the night. Shamefully, the probes, ordered by India, gave a clean chit to the accused army men and instead accused armed rebels of planning a hoax with “well-concocted bundle of fabricated lies.” For them, medical reports and numerous videos of the victims had no value.
After the recent incident in Handwara, the army expected people to trust what one schoolgirl said in a mysteriously leaked statement, but it did not want people to trust the evidently recorded statements of over 50 women, who accused army personnel of mass rape. It clearly proves the double standard of the army and depicts its deliberate attempt to hide the truth of tragic Kunan Poshpora mass rape case.
Vijdan is the founder and editor of JandK Now. He studies convergent journalism at Central University of Kashmir.
Disclaimer: This is an opinion article