When facts are more harrowing than fiction…

“When it looks like all the people the Army wanted out have gathered in the ground, a short interval, some kind of strained stasis, occurs by itself. Someone perhaps wanted to finish a cigarette or come back after a pee. From the left flank of the arc, in front of which the assembled crowd sits squatting, or with their heads in their knees, I have a clear view towards the right, where ten other vehicles are parked like ours, each a couple of feet behind the preceding one and then, starting from the middle, a couple of feet ahead of the previous one. I gaze at the people. at the whole setting, the trees, the hill, the sky, and stop at the brightly painted green pulpit to check something that had struck me as familiar earlier and–yea, my God, yes–there it is, painted dimly beneath the Allah-o-Akbar:”Eid Mubarak, Mohalla Committee, Poshpur’…and I feel a leaden weight, a sinking feeling, of guilt, of shame, descend on me at once, for long ago–Oh, Poshpur!–when Noor Khan had told me about the nearest big village, Poshpur, whose women had been raped by Indian soldiers and from where a lot of boys had left together for Pakistan to become militants, I had taken it with a pinch of salt, thought of it as yet another Noor Khan exaggeration, but now, looking at these men–there is not a single boy here–I believe everything at once, know it was true then, know it is true now, and in so doing feel guilty again, and am filled with a rage both past and current! You have no idea what people look like when their women–all their women–have been raped. I realize I can’t see a single raised eyebrow now; all of them are looking into the ground. (Oh, my God! Is it possible that those women, those curfew-hounded mothers, were from here?) These men are either looking down–a kind of defiance, this, I think, a profound defiance of the multitude of soldiers surrounding them in this exercise to look at their faces–or talking to each other in reserved gestures. Someone has come out with a red transistor and a few people are seated, loosely huddled, around it too.” –Mirza Waheed, The Collaborator.

India Moves Against Kashmir Rebels

By BARBARA CROSSETTE, Special to The New York Times
Published: April 07, 1991

For three days in March, the people of Batamaloo, a middle-class neighborhood here, were victims of India’s war against an independence movement it can no longer contain except by force.

They call it “the crackdown,” and it can happen, without warning, anywhere in the Kashmir Valley. An area is surrounded, shops are closed, people are confined to their houses or made to stand for hours, other houses are ransacked, women abused, graveyards dug up, mosques violated. The purpose is to ferret out militants and break the morale of their supporters.

At the end of the siege, boys as young as 12 or 14 are taken away for interrogation. In Batamaloo, where more than 100 young men were rounded up on March 27, mothers came out the next day to wail in panic and rage.

“Hindustanis!” some cried, giving their word for Indians the venom of a curse. When they began to march, they were driven back with tear gas and blows from rattan poles. By midmorning, one woman was dead and 20 hospitalized.

Women Taking Active Role

In this conservative Muslim society, women have moved to the forefront of demonstrations and also into guerrilla conclaves. No single event has contributed more to this rapidly rising militancy among women than reports of a gang rape a month ago by Indian troops in Kunan, a remote village in northwestern Kashmir.

According to a report filed by S. M. Yasin, district magistrate in Kupwara, the regional center, the armed forces “behaved like violent beasts.” He identified them as members of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles and said they rampaged through the village from 11 P.M. on Feb. 23 until 9 the next morning.

“A large number of armed personnel entered into the houses of villagers and at gunpoint they gang-raped 23 ladies, without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnancy etc.,” he wrote. “There was a hue and cry in the whole village.” Local people say that as many as 100 women were molested in some way.

A pediatrician who is a member of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Basic Rights Committee, a citizens’ group that visited Kunan soon after, said a woman had subsequently given birth to a child with bones that were fractured during the rape. Longtime Judge Is Outraged

Justice Bahauddin Farooqi, former chief justice of the state’s High Court, said that in his 43 years on the bench, he had never seen a case in which normal investigative procedures were ignored as they were in this one.