Today is the history. Today is different. Yes! Twenty third February is a history, not a plot of novel, not a set for a movie, not a short story, not a fictional anecdote but a real incident that still haunts the victims who felt prey to this long-lasting conflict between India and Pakistan. Although, all heinous acts under every dispensation that were perpetrated in the vale are terrible but this incident that took place at the northern frontier district, Kupwara of the valley is highly dreadful which is a history in its real senses. The insurgency and counter-insurgency were both at peak during this period. Cordons and search operations was a daily routine in this frontier district, in fact in the entire vale. On this day 1991, at some 11 pm, around 125 soldiers of RR launched a search operation in the twin village, Kunan-Poshpora of Kupwara to look for the two insurgents missing. What happened next will continue to be remembered as one of the ghastliest memories.
Some may argue on the number of soldiers, some on the number of victims while some may argue about the time of incident and other on investigations happened but what about the long term psychological impact of this incident on lives of victims and on the whole valley factually. Investigations and reinvestigations have procured nothing out of this but they order for compensation. Alas! What could be a compensation for rape, for obliteration of self-dignity, for forced genital mutilation and for long term negative impression of uniform men on survivors? What happened that night cannot be spared by just declaring it a "rape" but it was a complete and full-fledged "war" against humanity and human dignity. Using mass rape as an instrument of terror is one of the horrendous human rights violation. Some locals claim that it was a planned and staged attack owing to the prompt action of army in disguise of search operation that seems consistent with the authoritarian political objective of subjugation and oppression of valley. There was an immense need of critical investigation and commitment on accountability to end such kind of violence thereby punishing and persecuting the culprits. But, under Indian democracy the perpetrators are being promoted and merely transferred to another places to further more subjugate people.
There is a necessity to comprehend that apart from short term personal physical effect on the victim, rape has a long term psychological impact not only on the victim but a mass impact involving their family, community and society as a whole. The victim seems to suffer from depression, nightmares, self-blame, suicide attempts and dissociation (abstaining and defocussed in work). These effects are simply devastating for a victim that ruins their personal as well as social life completely. Moreover, there is always a reluctance among women of all societies especially Kashmir to socially acknowledge of being a victim that still haunts them throughout their life. Researchers have shown that most of the victims seem to feel ashamed, depressed, distrustful, guilty and disturbingly reluctant to seek further help after social acknowledgment.
We are not dead. We can't forget the tragedy that has befallen us. We are not dead but we are psychologically distressed and depressed from the daily routine of encounters, strikes, PSAs, detentions and most importantly betrayal of the politicians.
(The author is a PhD student from the Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur)