December 17, 2010

The Rape of Loura Jane

She had arrived in Srinagar on October 7th, 1990, from a trip to Ladakh and was lodged in a houseboat on the banks of Dal Lake along with her three friends. Little did she know of the fate that awaited her in Srinagar.

Born in 1966, 24-year old Miss Loura Jane Lambie, a Canadian agricultural science student was on a stroll on October 11th on the boulevard in Srinagar when it was just getting towards darkness. Near the Centaur Hotel, she was having a chat with three local boys asking them about what was going on in Kashmir and was immediately waylaid by personnel of the Indian National Security Guards (MSG) traveling in a white Maruti van. They were armed with automatic weapons and were also carrying a walkie talkie with them. One of them, tall but slim, warned Loura not to get into conversation with local Muslim youths, "All of them are very dangerous terrorists and can also molest you at this desolate spot", he told her.

When the guards asked as to whom she was, she replied, "A Canadian". "You shall have to accompany us to the police station," and thus Loura was asked to board the vehicle. Instead of any police station, Loura was taken to the Oberoi Palace Hotel where the guards had a drink from their own bottles because the bar in the Hotel was closed. She did not drink though she was invited to do so. The guards then ordered her to go back to the houseboat at that late hour, for the Kashmiri militants could kill her at any spot. The guards also took away her purse. Loura was taken to a garden near Chasma Shahi. It was 1am on October 12.

One of the guards directed loura to undress but she did not oblige. Her clothes were then torn and she was laid on the ground and gang raped. She cried under the open sky but there was no one to listen to her moans and shrieks except the sleeping state governor, Girish Saxena, in Raj Bhavan, which is situated only a few hundred yards from the scene of the incident. For a change, Loura was taken to another adjacent garden and the gang rape by five guards of the helpless victim continued. Finally, she fell unconscious.

A semi-conscious Loura was then dropped on the roadside, at a slight distance away from where she had been picked up the previous evening. On being sighted by the locals, she was carried to the police station at Nehru Park where a case for kidnapping and rape was registered under sections 366 and 376 of the Ranbir Penal Code under First Information Report No. 90/40. The police officers at the station recommended a medical examination of the victim and Loura was taken to Lal Ded Women's hospital in Srinagar."All Indian men are scoundrels, I'll not permit you to examine me", - Loura shouted at the male doctor in the hospital. Two female doctors then examined her ascertaining that dead sperms were found in her uterus and in the passage leading to it. There were scratches on her thighs, arms and breasts, which only testify that she resisted.

Loura Jane Lambie told pressmen that very day how brutally "security" guards raped her. The matter when brought to the higher authorities in the state and also when it was taken up with the government of India by the Canadian High Commission in New Dehli, the state police registered a case against the guards, arresting two of them whom Loura had conveniently identified in a batch of sixty-four guards paraded before her. She recognized them despite the fact that both of them had shaved off their beards.Loura was kept in protective custody by the state authorities and was allowed an interview with the state governor on October 13 who promised that stern action would be taken against the guards-turned-rapists.The authorities acted swiftly in view of the Canadian government taking a serious notice of the incident and it was in a record time that an inquiry was conducted and culprits punished.
But they were Left Free after some time.

Here lies the difference between the rape of a foreigner and that of a Muslim Kashmiri woman. The latter is treated as an allegation and passes off unnoticed and unwept.

SOURCE:Weekly Takbeer, Srinagar, October 31st, 1990

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