Saying that “crime never dies”, a J&K court has dismissed the revision petition filed by the Army in the Konan Poshpora mass rape case. The Army had filed the petition against an order directing the state government to further investigate the 23-year-old case. The revision petition was the first legal challenge from the Army in the case.
Observing that “crime never dies”, Kupwara sessions court dismissed the Army’s petition saying it has no merit. The court said that a “delay in investigation” doesn’t debar an investigating agency from “unraveling the truth” and held that the revision petition was filed on the basis of “assumptions and apprehensions”. The court asked the Army to cooperate with investigation.
The court also reprimanded the J&K Police for their “non-seriousness” and “casual & irresponsible attitude”. The court observed that the police’s report seeking to close the case as “untraced” confirms that a crime has taken place and that it was only a question of identifying the perpetrators.
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On the night of February 23-24, 1991, the soldiers of 4 Rajputana Rifles cordoned off the Konan and Poshpora villages of Kupwara. The soldiers assembled the men of these twin villages at one place and allegedly raped the women.
Though the police closed the case after some time as “untraced”, the State Human Rights Commission in 2011 found the Army responsible for the crime and asked the state government to reopen the case.
In March 2013, a group of 50 women petitioners in solidarity with survivors of the mass rape initiated a process of consultations and planned to file a PIL before the J&K High Court seeking implementation of the SHRC recommendations.
However, the police filed an instant closure report before a court in Kupwara. Villagers say that the closure report was filed secretively and when they were issued notices by the court to record their statements, they were not told that a closure report has been filed. In June 2013, human rights lawyer Advocate Parvez Imroz, on behalf of the survivors, filed a protest petition before the judicial magistrate of Kupwara against the closure report. Kupwara Judicial Magistrate J A Geelani dismissed police’s closure report and directed it to investigate the case. The court said that a police officer of a rank not below SSP should complete the investigation in three months.