Kunan Poshpora, 27 yrs later: a curfew child remembers

Women pose with copies of Ifrah Butt’s book in Srinagar during its launch.  

Mumbai: Sometime in the last decade of the previous century, Ifrah Butt realised that the army men who would call her ‘gudiya’ and ‘bachcha’ were staring at her in a way that made her very uneasy. Till then, the presence of soldiers was reassuring to her, lending a sense of protection. In just one moment, like that, Kashmir Valley and its breathtaking scenery began resembling a cage. “In Kashmir, we were called the ‘curfew children’. I was used to staying at home and never stepping out after sunset.”

Years later, while co-authoring Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora to demand justice for the victims of alleged mass rape and torture by the Indian Army in the villages of Kunan and Poshpora in Jammu and Kashmir — Ms. Butt was born a few years after the 1991 incident — she would draw upon the helpless rage she sensed in the villagers. At the time, words like rape and sexual violence were rarely uttered in Kashmir society.

Ms. Butt was in the city to mark Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day, which is also the 27th anniversary of the Kunan Poshpara incident, where she participated in a discussion on ‘Militarisation and Me’. Underlining issues surrounding armed conflict, militarisation and sexual impunity, Ms. Butt said Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day had provided a platform in the the last four years for critical society conversations in Kashmir. Its aim: to address sexual violence, not with shame, taboo and masculine dishonour but with survival, resilience and memoralisation.

She said, “Five of the survivors have died. Abli Dar died on June 11, 2014 due to complications during a surgery to amputate his leg, which had been badly injured on that night of torture by the army during its ‘search and cordon’ operation.”

Armed conflict, says Ms. Butt, has actually empowered women in a way. “There was a time when Kashmiri women were thought to be incapable of running their homes by themselves, but they rose to the occasion during conflict, while the men were away. They’ve raised their children on their own, and are supporting their families as well.”

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 6:58:38 AM |

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