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Home > Women’s Rights > Women’s Groups Condemn State Cover-up in Shopian Case (in Kashmir)

Women’s Groups Condemn State Cover-up in Shopian Case (in Kashmir)

by Farida Khan, Jagori, Nirantar, Partners for Law in Development, Pratiksha Baxi, Saheli, Stree Adhikaar Sanghatana, Uma Chakravarti, Zubaan, 21 June 2009

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The news of the rape and murder of two young women in Shopian in Kashmir is deeply shocking. We condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms.

We are also deeply disturbed by the reaction of the State. Instead of speaking out against this flagrant violation of human rights, and particularly the right of women to live safely and with dignity, instead of taking speedy and firm steps to bring the perpetrators to book, the State and the new administration first denied the rape of women and then attempted to justify it by saying that women went there on their own and their murder was an accident or suicide.

It is sickening to see the depths to which the State can go to provide a cover-up for the guilty. It was only after weeks of protest that a simple thing like filing of a First Information Report was allowed. Does the filing of an FIR have to wait for ‘conclusive evidence’ of rape and murder before it can be registered? Why call it a First Information Report then? And now, a ‘one man commission’ has been ordered by the State Government in the name of ‘responding to people’s lack of faith in the police’. It is striking that in the matter of rapes by security personnel, the government did not think of having even one woman on the Commission.

The situation in J&K is completely unacceptable to anyone even with the smallest tinge of a conscience; democracy is not a matter of elections or election rhetoric. Its substance is the rule of law and justice for all. However, widespread militarisation and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the Kashmir Valley have provided immunity to security personnel in countless cases of rape, murder, disappearances and fake encounters. A few transfers, a camp removed, a few heads rolling, will not end the intolerable situation in J&K. The signals are clear: the AFSPA must go if people are to live normal lives; else the case of Shop1an will not be the last.

As women activists and women’s groups who have for long fought for women’s rights and their place in Indian society, we wish to register our strong protest on the incidents at Shopian and extend our solidarity and friendship to the women of Kashmir in the struggle for justice and the rule of law, and for an end to all forms of immunity that obstruct the prosecution of the guilty.