Kashmiris call for International probe after India rape cover-upDecember 24, 2009
The report of the pro-Indian government of Kashmir claimed that the two women – a 17-year-old and her 22-year-old sister-in-law – died by drowning, and not rape and murder at the hands of Indian occupation soldiers. The events of Dec. 15, 2009, mark another Kashmiri uprising against oppressive Indian rule. This is embarrassing for New Delhi and its allies in Washington and London, especially Pakistan cannot be blamed for this and after the move by China to stop treating Kashmiris as Indian citizens and World Bank’s decision to decline treating Kashmir as Indian territory.
Thousands of angry Kashmiris took to the streets on Dec. 15, a day after federal police investigating the deaths of two women said they “drowned” and were not raped and killed, triggering claims of a cover-up.
The deaths of Neelofar Jan, 22, and her sister-in-law, 17-year-old Asiya Jan, in May had sparked protests in the disputed Himalayan region. Locals said they had been sexually abused and killed by the security forces.
Four police officers were later arrested on charges of suppressing and destroying evidence in the case. The officers were freed in September, a move that further angered residents.
Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s former envoy to Washington and a potential replacement for the incumbent ambassador there, wrote in her column in today’s The News:
“In the month that marked 20 years of the uprising against Indian rule, occupied Kashmir once again erupted in anger. The shutters came down and life was paralyzed by a strike across the Valley on Dec 15. This time the protest was ignited by the findings of a federal police investigation into the rape and murder in May of two women in Shopian, a town 35 kilometers from Srinagar.”
Even more interesting is the reaction of pro-Indian Kashmiris who are part of the Indian puppet government in the occupied region. This is how Dr. Lodhi referred to one of those Kashmiri ‘leaders’, Mehbooba Mufti:
“Mehbooba Mufti, the opposition leader in the state assembly, had this to say: “The whole charade of investigations by multiple agencies was aimed at shielding the culprits rather than bringing them to book.” She was referring to the bizarre sequence of events since May when local officials initially claimed that the girls had drowned, then retracted this in the face of mass protests and agreed they might have been murdered.”
In September after weeks of protests, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI took over the case.
In a report for India’s high court Monday, the federal agency concluded that the two had “drowned”, ruling out rape and murder.
On Tuesday, thousands of people gathered in the main square in Shopian chanting, “We want freedom” and “Sisters, we are ashamed that your killers are still free.”
In both Shopian and Srinagar, shops and businesses stayed shut and public transport remained off the streets in response to a strike called by the Majlis-e-Mashawarat, a local group demanding justice for the two women.
The strike is also supported by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, head of the All Parties’ Hurriyat Conference, an alliance of pro-independence groups in the region.
On Tuesday, Farooq called the CBI report politically motivated and said that he supported the Majlis-e-Mashawarat’s call for an independent international probe into the deaths.
Veteran Kashmiri Hurriyet leader, Syed Ali Gilani also strongly condemned the CBI report, terming it as “an attempt to shield the men in uniform”.
Tens of thousands of Muslims have been killed since simmering discontent against Indian rule turned into a full opposition in 1989.
In 1948, the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for a referendum for Kashmir to determine whether the Himalayan region should be part of India and Pakistan. But India has rejected to hold referendum in Kashmiri territory. Kashmiris see India as an “occupier state”.