Book Review | Ground report | OKAY. Kunan & Poshpora are two villages in the Kupwara district of Kashmir. On a cold February night in 1991, the Indian Army mass raped at least 30 women in the village in the guise of a cordon & search operation. This book is co-authored by five women in their attempt to bring out the injustice in the system, and impunity given by the state to this sexual violence case.
A bunch of women filed a PIL to re-open the above-mentioned case. They wanted to fight for justice which was denied to women of the village in Kashmir. As they say in the book, the battle is about winning, primarily, but to show resistance towards such acts, so they are not repeated elsewhere. That is a battle beyond winning and losing. There are moments in the book where they, simultaneously you, are questioning the enormous power the system has, and how these people wish to hide atrocities in the name of nationalism. The incident and violence propagated by the Indian Army, described in the book, is hard to accept. The description of the night is gruesome and traumatizing. As I have never lived in the fear of army personnel, I can barely imagine the Indian Army even think of doing something this heinous. We also encounter the courage, and bravery of the Kashmiri women for the resistance against the Indian Army. In addition, we also read about the social stigma, financial struggles, and mental problems the villagers face due to that one night.
The book is divided into seven chapters namely, Kunan Poshpora and Women in Kashmir, Sexual Violence and Impunity in Kashmir, That Night in Kunan Poshpora, Life in Kunan Poshpora Today, Inquires and Impunity, People Who Remember and The Recent Struggle: An Insider’s View. These chapter titles give a fair idea of what the book talks about.
The title of the book, ‘Do you remember Kunan-Poshpora?’ is posed as a question because no one remembers it all. People show outrage over rapes throughout the country but can so easily turn their backs to atrocities, perpetrated or advocated by the state, in Kashmir. For obvious reasons, this book isn’t to be read as literature or even as academic writing. Read to know something which is hidden from you through state impunity. Read it to understand what Kashmiri women go through each day in the apparent ‘heaven on Earth.’ This incident happened almost 21 years ago and still, there is no acknowledgment of the brutality, let alone justice.
The rationale to not persecute an army officer in civil court is that it will impact the morale of the entire Army. Like, for the atrocities which take in Kashmir, or Manipur because of the AFSPA the army personnel are never persecuted. If the persecution will lower the morale of the institution, then not persecuting in public impact the faith of the general public in the institution too. Can we blame them for not having faith in the Indian Army?
The Army has been given special powers through provisions in Kashmir, and other volatile states then, at least the public can ask for a fair investigation. Otherwise, justice is a farce.
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