Rape has been common occurrence in India. Since independence no government took any notice, leave alone any substantial step, to deal with this burning issue. Over the years rape has become accepted norm in the society that there are around 100 members in Lok Sabha accused of rape and murder.
However the conscious of the nation was kindled following the senseless and brutal gang rape and murder of a 23 year old medical student on 16, December 2012, returning with her male friend from the cinema on a bus in Southern New Delhi.
Enraged students vented out their anger when a leader of the then ruling Congress party, Bikram Singh Brahma, who was arrested on accusations of raping a woman in a village in the early hours of the morning on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 in Gauhati. Footage on Indian television showed the extraordinary scene of local women surrounding ripping off his shirt and repeatedly slapping him across the face.
However rape and gang rape on Muslim women since partition of the Sub Continent in 1947 went unnoticed by all. Some reports even estimate the total number of attacks on Muslims involving rape during the past 65 years is at around 40,000.
These attacks on Muslims and raping and gang raping women were carefully planned and expected by Hindu extremist political party Rastriya Swayam Sevak,RSS, and its fronts such as Shiv Sena,Bajrang Dal,Vishva Hindu Parishad, VHP Bharathiya Janata Party,BJP and many such outfits. One of the worst communal attacks involving large scale rape of Muslim women took place in Gujarat on 27 February 2002, when Sabarmati Express train, carrying Hindu pilgrims,was burnt at the town of Godhra.
An Indo-Asian News Service report stated that a citizen’s tribunal that spoke to victims of Gujarat pogrom has chronicled most brutal and inhuman rape and torture of women, leaving survivors and their families emotionally scarred for life. Before they were killed, the usual routine that they were made to go through by the killer mobs was rape, gang rape, mass rape, stripping, parading, insertion of objects in their body, molestation and torching.
The report said a chilling cover-up technique was destruction of the evidence by burning the victims. “Barring a few, in most instances of sexual violence, women victims were stripped and paraded naked, gang-raped and quartered and burnt beyond recognition.”
Many of the 33,000-odd children forced to live in refugee camps throughout Gujarat were mute witnesses to sexual crimes against their womenfolk – mothers, sisters, aunts and even grandmothers.
Forty-six women were among the 96 bodies that were buried in a mass grave after a village in Gujarat had been ravaged by a hindu mobs. A rape victim from the relief camp told the Bangkok based Asian tribune that she was “stripped, gang-raped, her baby was killed in front of her, she was beaten up, burnt and left for dead.”
Women were also attacked with acid, beaten up with rods for an hour, their vagina sliced, or iron rods pushed inside.Their bellies would be cut open and objects inserted. A 13-year-old girl had a rod pushed into her stomach. A mother recounted that her three-year-old baby was raped and killed.
One of the most gruesome accounts was that about the death of Kausar Bano, a pregnant woman of Naroda Patiya. She was raped, tortured, her womb was slit open with a sword; her foetus was torn out, hacked to pieces and burnt alive with its mother.
Meanwhile one of the worst places in India ,perhaps, in the whole world, where the society was ravaged by rape was Kashmir where between 1989 and 31 December 2011 around 10,444 reported cases of rape and gang rape while several thousand went unreported.
The veteran Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Gilani strongly denouncing the gang rape of a woman in New Delhi, questioned the double standards of the Hypocrtie backward Indian people, who had taken to streets against the notorious incident but maintained silence over thousands of such incidents in Kashmir over the past two decades.
Indiscriminate rape has been a common thing ever since Kashmiris rose up in 1989 demanding freedom from India. For example “Just before midnight on 18 May 1990 a bus carrying 27 members of a family wedding party approached a roadblock manned by soldiers of the Border Security Forces (BSF) near Badasgam village in Kashmir, India. As the bus rolled to a halt, the soldiers opened fire, killing the bridegroom’s brother and wounding at least nine others, including the bride – 18-year-old Mubina Gani – and her husband.
“We lay down under the seats and pretended to be dead, After the shooting they came inside and started to beat everyone.”
Some of the soldiers dragged the new bride and her heavily-pregnant aunt into a nearby field.
“We were crying bitterly. I told them that I had not yet seen my husband. But they didn’t listen. They took off our clothes…and then we were raped. Four to six men raped me, I think.”
Suffering from shock and gunshot wounds, Mubina Gani was taken away and held in military custody for 48 hours. Indian officials initially claimed that the bus had accidentally been caught in a cross-fire. However, the Superintendent of the Anantnag police later confirmed that the BSF had fired on the bus indiscriminately and that the two women had been gang-raped. Four BSF soldiers were apparently suspended from duty, but no further legal or disciplinary action appears to have been taken.
While addressing a seminar at the UN in Geneva, entitled, “Defending the Democratic Processes”, British parliamentarian, George Galloway, has also confirmed that India is using rape as a weapon of occupation in Kashmir.
A study done by “Doctors without Borders” reveals that Kashmiri women are among the worst sufferers of sexual violence in the world. It further mentions that since the beginning of the armed struggle in Kashmir in 1989, sexual violence has been routinely perpetrated on Kashmiri women.
Brutalities in Kashmir have also been condemned by Indian human rights groups. The Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, Hyderabad; Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai, and Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi, issued a stinging rebuke of Indian forces’ practices in Kashmir following a visit to the state by their fact-finding team last year.
India, which claims to be the ‘largest democracy’ in the world, has drawn an iron curtain around Kashmir. Human rights organisations, especially Amnesty International, have been barred from entering the state since 1978. Even so, reports have trickled out painting a grim picture. Freedom House, a New York-based non-profit organisation, described India’s occupation of Kashmir as the ‘worst of the worst’ where basic human and political rights were denied to the people.