Ghulam Nabi Azad made a statement a few days back justifying the number of rapes committed by “security forces” in Kashmir.
I was too angry to write. I read something from GK today that somehow vents out some of that anger that I feel.. so I quote it for you to read and think:
Rapes: Comedy of numbers
Time to sell some preposterous numbers to shelter the Indian forces, for crimes as heinous as rape, comments Ather Zia
There are lies, damned lies and statistics.(Mark Twain)
The discussion currently is not about a dead body or a disappeared kin but women, who have been raped and whose stories are grabbing headlines in the media for the sheer fact that Kashmiri people refuse to absorb the atrocities silently anymore. As the number of victims increases day by day, so does the ire of people. In a recent speech in the legislative assembly Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad praised the Indian troops and the State Police for what he perceives as an “improved security situation.” I may well clear this delusion (for my sake), as we do assume that a minister cannot be totally out of touch with reality. The fact is that in Kashmir since killings, rapes and other human rights violations are so routine and rampant during every regime, they may well be counted as normal and even if the reigning pro-Indian government even so much as achieve stretching the Kashmiri day which normally would end by 5 or 6 pm in evening due to security reasons, by a couple of hours, it is claimed as a big improvement.
Normalcy restored. One rose often becomes the reigning administration’s garden. A sailboat with token tourist faces, on the festering lake can be made representative of a booming visitors. Such small events for the lapdog administrations are great milestones needed for yapping about their power in bringing about the elusive normalcy. So much so for the claims of returning normalcy in Kashmir.
Coming back to statistics, I have never known an instance when statistics could have been more desperately used by a politician to dupe masses who know better (inversely trying to please his bosses) and looked ridiculous. This can only be topped by the previous Chief Minister who insisted that there were only 60 cases of enforced disappearances.
Azad’s admonishment to the Kashmiris, saying if they were aghast at the rapes by state troopers “you should also agitate when a general rape incident takes place”, might also be the first time in Kashmir’s long history that the administration has admitted to the trend of institutional hoologanism and state terror permeating the ranks of Indian forces. With absorption of renegade militants into the state police force, the situation has become even more fatal.
The implication of Azad’s statement extends into assuming that not only has been a percentage of Indian forces brought at par with ordinary criminals (from whom this behavior can be expected like ordinary civilian criminals), but also becomes a valid start for conscientious scholars or citizens to analyze the overall composition of this nasty bulwark pressing on Kashmir. Chastising Kashmiris for protesting against the atrocities committed by the Indian forces and equating them with civilian crimes, will go a long way in underscoring the actual utility of Indian forces for any administration in power in Kashmir. Need we any more.
Azad also touted that only 4 cases had been proven against the Indian forces so far, safely sidestepping and overlooking the exhaustive documentation put forth by independent, international research organizations and activists in Kashmir on rape being used as a weapon of war and futility of the legal system. Not to mention the brazen ground realities staring people in the face day in and day out. Studies have proven that most violence that occurs in the course of armed conflict, “violence against women is not accidental but a tool used to achieve military objectives such as spreading political terror, breaking the resistance of a community, rewarding soldiers, intimidation, or to extract information. Many forms of violence that women suffer during armed conflict are gender specific in both nature and result.” Recent investigations have clearly demonstrated that in any number of conflict situations including Kashmir, the targeting of victims and the forms of the abuse carried out during armed conflict were based on gender as well as other identity markers.
More importantly many studies emphasize that most of the rapes in Kashmir go unreported, which is what ironically makes Azad‘s statistics laughable. While Azad tried to intellectualize rapes by saying they were crimes that were actually the “state of mind” of a society of which troops or cops were a part (dare fathom the meaning of this metaphorical entombment?). He actually tried to have a fantastic analogy between incidence of rapes in India with that of Kashmir – against the “national average” of 18000 rapes annually across India Kashmir registers only 250 rapes. A question that arises upfront, is that how many of those rapes in India are committed by armed forces?
Azad should have duly desisted from using token statistics since he is a Kashmiri himself and knows the shame that surrounds rape in this conservative society and the hesitancy in reporting such incidents or even talking about them.
Are all rapes reported in Kashmir? Even when reported, what happens after that? There is proven evidence that perpetrators are sparingly brought to book.
Considering the recent Bandipore rape, the family reported being pressurized by the troopers to take back charges. And this for a case which grabbed national and international headlines. If Azad had any misgivings, he might have turned to research reports produced by renowned international human rights groups or even Indian activists or scholars who have had no qualms in revealing, that, “Women in Kashmir have been raped with impunity and most of them go unreported given the social stigma and fear of retribution by the State. The GOI (Government of India) has been quick to deny and cover-up most of those cases which do get reported”
Even if we wanted to entertain his “ironically funny” statistics a bit, there still remain reasons to scoff at the claim. Are there comparisons between a 10.7 million population of Kashmir, which is oppressed and repressed, with the rest of 1 billion across India. What is the bizarre logic behind this statistic – what does it prove? Does it mean Kashmir has any less rapes (administrative success anyone?), there could have been more (the government should be thanked)? How does it assuage people who have their lives at stake as well as their honor? The only thing it re-emphasizes is that there exists a state patronage for troops to commit rapes as well as other human rights abuse; there exists inhuman acceptance within the civil administration for this to happen and in that they are ready to defend and stand by the troops.
This is utterly humiliating. Shame on us who have no choice but to stand silent; who cannot hit back and say its not about the percentage of army or other troopers being talked about or their defense; its about the palpably vulnerable lives of our daughters and mothers. Its not about damned statistics which are just an eyewash concocted in the backwaters of state oppression and sterile bureaucracy for a fantastic use such as this. If Azad needs to count 4 cases of proven guilt anew, he will have to relearn his numbers from women in the villages of Konunposhpora, Dardpora, Kangan and myraids of other villages and towns; not to mention countless others who suffer in silence – nameless and faceless. And who like the troopers have no one to take their side.