In 1974 in Manipur, an officer of the Border Security Force (BSF) repeatedly raped Rose who then committed suicide while her perpetrator went scot-free due to lack of sufficient evidence.
In 1991 in Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir, security troops cordoned off the Kunan-Poshpora villages & carried out a mass-rape operation in which 40 to 100 women were raped. The survivors, who at the time ranged from 13 to 80 years old, are still waiting for justice.
In 1997, army personnel operating in Nalbari district, Assam cordoned off a village area for 3 days in search of militants. After torturing the villagers, they raped 4 teenaged girls. Although a case was registered, no investigation was carried out.
In 2009, in the Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, two young women left home for their orchard and never returned. Later their bodies were found bearing marks of violence near a nullah close to the police and army camps. The doctor who did the postmortem said that the girls were victims of gang-rape & “animalistic behaviour.” All attempts at an impartial enquiry failed and the CBI has closed the case.
The instances of rape and murder as a result of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) are too numerous to record here and they continue unchecked. In 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee that was appointed to look into possible amendments of criminal laws related to sexual violence observed that “impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence in the process of internal security duties is being legitimised by the AFSPA” and that “women in conflict areas are entitled to all the security and dignity that is afforded to citizens in any other part of our country.” It recommended that prosecution of army personnel for an alleged sexual offence should not require sanction from the central government and that offenders should be tried under normal law. The central government has ignored these recommendations.
Is a rape survivor like Manorama from either the Northeast or Jammu and Kashmir less deserving of justice? Are the security forces sacrosanct and incapable of sexual violence? Is the rape of a dalit, an adivasi or a Muslim woman in a conflict zone more acceptable than the assault on a middle class, upper caste woman in a non-conflict area? Why is a woman who is raped branded as an insurgent, a Maoist or one with a loose character while her perpetrators roam free?
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