Book Review: Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?

Author: Essar, Ifrah, Samreena, Munaza, Natasha
Published: 2013
Publisher: Zubaan
Pages: 222
My Rating & Recommendation: 3/5, I Recommend

This book is about blatant Human Rights abuse and crimes against women. Specifically, it details the alleged incident of mass rape of Kashmiri women by the personnel of the Indian Armed Forces.

In the year 1991, on a cold February night, more than 30 odd women in the age group of 12 to 70 years, in the two small villages of Kunan and Poshpora in Kashmir (J&K), India were brutally raped by the personnel of the Indian Armed forces during a supposedly routine cordon and search operation.

The cluster of authors (Five young Kashmiri women) present an account of the Kunan Poshpora incident, its shocking impact on the lives of the villagers and the orchestrated delay in delivering justice to the victims of this tragedy. The authors lament the supposed impunity enjoyed by the Armed Forces which has ensured that incident is plagued by botched up preliminary police investigation, biased reports by special committees and judicial indifference. As a result, 26 years later, the case still warrants a thorough investigation.

Backed by thorough research, meetings with the villagers and victims, study of case documents, supporting artefacts and interviews of other people closely associated with the incident, the authors present a strong case against the deliberate cover up by the government and the Army. Additionally, in the seven chapters, a reader also gets a glimpse of life in Kashmir (most militarised zone in the world), and the constant undercurrent of mistrust between Kashmiri people and the authorities. The journey of a courageous group of young women (authors and 45 others) that is creating awareness about this incident and pioneering the demand for justice for the victims of Kunan Poshpora is well articulated. This group filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in 2013, seeking re-investigation of the incident. The case is still sub judice.

The writing is a little lengthy and repetitive in portions. The core issue is emphasised very strongly. Overall, this book is a good informative read. Though some details of the incident startled me, largely the content is non disturbing but provoking for sure. The book has helped me to understand the perspective and thought process of my fellow Kashmiri citizens, who, to my utter dismay, unfortunately lack the sense of belonging to our country India. I recommend this book for the awareness it brought along. May Peace prevail. Happy Reading!

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