Rape As A Political Tool

Justice for Asifa protest in Srinagar

Human Rights Watch investigations in the former Yugoslavia, Peru, Kashmir, conflicts, whether international or internal in scope.  HRW found that rape of women civilians has been deployed as a tactical weapon to terrorize civilian communities or to achieve “ethnic cleansing,” a tool in enforcing hostile occupations, a means of conquering or seeking revenge.

Yet rape in conflict or under repressive regimes is neither incidental nor private. It routinely serves a strategic function and acts as a tool for achieving specific military or political objectives. Like other human rights abuses, rape serves as a means of harming, intimidating and punishing individual women. Further, rape almost always occurs in connection with other forms of violence or abuse against women or their families. There are different ways in which rape functions as a tactical weapon. History is evident that in conflict areas rape of women of particular ethnic identities as part of their campaigns to drive these women, their families and communities out of the area , state or country. Same is the case in Kashmir Where Women  has also been raped and killed after being abducted by various elements.

Demographic changes

Nothing has changed from centuries because in year 2016 when  The deputation of farmers including a Hindu farmer approached lal Singh ( BJP) JK Legislator  at his official residence at Gandhi Nagar on May 18 2016 in connection with issues pertaining to their orchard land.

“The Minister asked for names of delegation and after knowing that they are from a particular community (Muslims) used abusive language against Muslim  community without listening to their pleas and said ‘OyeGujroo tum 1947 bhoolgayeho’ (You Gujjars, have you forgotten 1947?)” and in the same matter  the complaint was  filed by the farmers with Police Station Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.

At least two to four lakh Muslim residents of Jammu were massacred by communal forces in 1947, described by historians as a planned cleansing of the community from the region.

The historians say that the killings carried out by the Hindu ruler’s army and Sikh army was a “state sponsored genocide” to bring out demographic changes in Jammu – a region which had an overwhelming population of Muslims.

“The massacre of more than two lakh (two hundred thousands) Muslims was state-sponsored and state supported. The forces from Patiala Punjab were called in, RSS (a right-wing Hindu organisation) was brought to communalise the whole scenario and kill Muslims,” as per  PGRasool, the author of a book The Historical Reality of Kashmir Dispute.

The Muslims, who constituted more than 60 percent of the population of Jammu region, were reduced to a minority after the killings and displacement.

Furthermore when the then Indian Prime Minister of India PanditJawahar Lal Nehru and Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah met a delegation of Muslims in Jammu, they were told about the “tragic events” but they preferred to remain silent.

“They didn’t want that people in Kashmir – which had a Muslim majority from the beginning – should know about it because it could have led to demonstrations. The state from the beginning has tried to cover up it. So we don’t call it massacre but it was a staged genocide that is unfortunately not talked about,”

“They thought even if they lose Kashmir at least they should get Jammu and the only way was to have a Hindu majority.”

A rape is a brutal and heinous crime. But sadly in India, a rape also becomes a political issue, The groundswell of horror against gory gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir’s KathuaThe details are gory to such an extent that my fingers tremble while writing them. The child was kidnapped, confined using sedatives and repeatedly gang-raped in a temple. She was strangled and then pelted with a heavy stone. But rather than focusing on the fact that a child was abused and murdered, the discussion appears to have taken a different turn. The matter has turned into a Hindu versus Muslim debate in the country. It seems to be of utmost importance that the victim was a Muslim and the accused perpetrators Hindus.  right-wing Hindu groups like the Hindu EktaManch have come out in support of the suspected rapists and held protests in the state.

And  a couple of ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part in these protests. The incident took place in January this year but it came to public notice when the police filed the case after doing a meticulous investigation nailing the culprits in April. However, what came as a shock was the way in which Bar Association of Jammu came out in favour of the accused.  They prevented the police from filing the report in the court.

Rajawat, an advocate in Jammu, took up the case of the 8-year-old Bakarwal girl who was raped and murdered in January. Within days of her decision, even as many from the Bar took to the streets — some brandishing sticks — and shouted slogans against the state government, asking that the case be transferred from the J&K police’s crime branch to the CBI, she began getting threats to stay away.

From last one week whole of the humanity mourn the rape and murder of a little girl in kathua. Her crime was that she belonged to the bakerwal community that the Hindutva forces want out of area. Her rape and murder are part of a larger narrative of communal violence with womens bodies being used as a battle filed. As long as the perpetrator of crime is an institution and obstructer of justice the state itself more and more rapes will happen as a political weapon.

Syed Mujtaba Adv, Human Rights Defender( Chairman  at  Kashmir Policy Research Initiative) and can be mailed at [email protected]



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