January 04, 2011

Rapes with Impunity

Indian forces and paramilitary militias working with them have been responsible for rape throughout the conflict. Although the cases are created but most of them are never heard, and those which are heard are delayed and apparently denied.Reports of rape from Doda and other border areas have increased since the crackdown in these areas began in 1997.

The case of Sameera illustrates the army's practice of assaulting villagers in punishment because they believe they have supported the militants, or as a means of terrorizing them so that they will not do so. Sameera about fifty, a resident of Ludna, Doda, told Human Rights Watch that on October 5, 1998, the Eighth Rashtriya Rifles came to her house and took her, her husband and her eight-month-old grandson to their base in the village of Charote, some fifteen kilometers away. There they were separated. She said:

    They began beating me. They said that we had been feeding the militants. They used electric shocks on my feet. I was raped. They stripped off my clothes and said they would kill me. There were many soldiers and a captain. The captain raped me, keeping everyone else outside. He told me: "You are Muslims, and you will all be treated like this." He was a Hindu, but he told me that he was a Muslim, and that his name was Shahnawaz. He forced me to confess that I had been feeding the militants. This happened on the first night. I was there for fifteen days. Then we were released.

Ten days after their arrest, while the family was still in Charote, Sameera's daughter, daughter-in-law and son were arrested and taken to another army base in Gundna village, where they were held for two days before being released.

When the family returned to their home they discovered that all of their belongings had been taken, including Rs. 10,000 [U.S.$ 250] and jewelry. At the time that Human Rights Watch interviewed Sameera., she had not yet filed a police report but had received medical treatment from a local practitioner. She stated that she was still in pain.

Residents of Marmal, Doda, told Human Rights Watch that in early October 1998 the army cordoned off some twenty villages in the area for fifteen days and during that time took some of the local women to the army camp. Although the women did not talk about what had happened to them, from their behavior the other residents believed that a number of them had been raped.

    They are looking for the militants. But they are unable to find any. So they harass the local population .... Our womenfolk are taken into the army camp, all separately. They round up the women, then take two or three in the evening. They come back after two or three days. They are very shy then, and don't want to talk about what has happened to them. The army has pressured them not to speak about what happened.

(Names have been Changed)

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