Konan Poshpora mass rape: The silence of a night
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It's been 22 years since the Konan Poshpora mass rape. With yet another round of investigations set to begin, women in two villages of Kupwara, now joined forever, ask when will the questions end and the answers begin
On a February night in 1991, during a cordon-and-search operation, soldiers of 4 Rajputana Rifles of the Army's 68 Brigade swooped down on Kunan and Poshpora, twin villages 7 km from Kupwara, forced the men out of their homes and confined them to two houses in Kunan. Then, they barged into the other houses and allegedly gangraped women and children—from a 14-year-old physically challenged girl to a 70-year-old grandmother.
That's the night Kunan and Poshpora became Konan Poshpora, joined together in public lexicon by a catastrophe that changed the lives of its people forever. Twenty-two years later, that night has seen no closure despite several probes and reports. With further investigation into the mass rape case set to begin—this time on the orders of the Kupwara judicial magistrate—the wounds have once again been prised open.
A narrow road from Kupwara, lined with paddy fields, hamlets and orchards, leads to Kunan and Poshpora. It is an address everyone tries to disown. "Kunan? This is not Kunan," a man says dismissively in one of the villages on the way.
Ironically then, it's easy to miss Kunan, a cluster of exposed red-brick houses, while Poshpora hides just behind it. Villagers are wary of outsiders. Men talk in hushed tones, some walk away to avoid conversation, women pull their scarves over their faces and children look on suspiciously. However, for a village that has every reason to be distrustful, there are no boundary walls around the houses, almost as if they are in a constant, wary huddle. "After 1991, we have lived in fear. Though we would like to build walls around our houses, we are too poor to afford them," says Ghulam Ahmad Dar, a 70-year-old villager from Kunan.