BREAKING his silence after 23 years, then Kupwara deputy commissioner Kupwara S M Yasin said on Sunday that he had been threatened and offered promotions to change his report on the alleged mass rapes in Konan Poshpora in February 1991.
Yasin was the first government official to visit the villages of Kunan and Poshpora, near Kupwara, and note down the testimonies of the alleged victims. In his report sent to the then divisional commissioner, Kashmir, Wajahat Habibullah, Yasin had written that the Armymen “behaved like beasts” and that he feels “ashamed to put in black and white the kind of atrocities and their magnitude that were brought to my notice”. Within 15 days of filing of the report, he was transferred to the Muslim Auqaf Trust as a special officer.
“An Army major who was stationed in Kupwara and was a good friend of mine approached me and said, ‘You are on the hit list of the Army, please take care’,” Yasin said, speaking on the 24th anniversary of the alleged incident, which is marked as ‘Women’s Resistance Day’. “They tried everything to put pressure on me and alter the findings of the report, but my conscience didn’t allow me,” the former deputy commissioner said. “I was offered every kind of incentive in terms of political offers, promotion from KAS (Kashmir Administrative Service) to IAS, money.”
Calling the Konan Poshpora incident the “biggest blot on the democratic face” of India, Yasin said: “The major also told me that the government through its own investigations had come to know that soldiers of the Army had in fact committed mass rapes.”
Defence spokesperson Col Brajesh Pandey said he had not heard about Yasin’s statement. “We have nothing to say unless we know in what context he has said this.”
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At the event to mark the event, Yasin added that the State had used “every tactic and every organ including media” to prove that the Army was innocent and that the women were lying.
“After the mass rape, G C Saxena, who was the governor of J&K, called a meeting. That morning, I heard the news on Radio Kashmir, according to which Wajahat Habibullah in his investigation report had said that the Konan Poshpora mass rape allegations were false. At the meeting, when I asked Habibullah about it, he said, ‘I am yet to file my report. How can they say this?’.”
On February 23, 1991, during a cordon and search operation, soldiers of 4 Rajputana Rifles of the Army’s 68 Brigade had raided Kunan and Poshpora villages near Kupwara. They had allegedly forced the men out of their homes and locked them up in two houses in Kunan, before barging into houses and raping women and children.