New York Times analyses Shopian rape case

New York, August 16:  The rape and murder of two young women of Shopian in occupied Kashmir has become the focal point for bottomless Kashmiri rage at the continuing presence of roughly 500,000 Indian troops in the disputed territory. 
 
According to Kashmir Media Service, the New York Times correspondent Lydia Polgreen writes that how and where Asiya, a 17-year-old high school student, and her 22-year-old sister-in-law, Nilofar, had been gang raped before their deaths.

"The crime, and allegations of a bungled attempt by the local police to cover it up, set off months of sporadic street protests”. Stating that India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, the report said, “Settling the Kashmir dispute is the key to unlocking the region’s tensions”.

“Despite Kashmiri rage and the damage to India’s image, the government of India has bridled at any outside pressure to negotiate a solution, let alone reduce its force level here. Caught in the middle are Kashmir’s 10 million people. The case of Asiya and Nilofar is only the latest abuse to strike a chord with Kashmiris, who say it is emblematic of the problems of what amounts to a full-scale occupation. “Kashmir has its own police force, but it works in close tandem with the Indian forces here and is seen by many as virtually indistinguishable from them. Four Kashmiri officers are suspected of trying to cover up the crime,” the NY Times said.
 
Kashmiri activists and human rights groups say that rapes by men in uniform, extrajudicial killings and a lack of redress are endemic, not least because Indian forces are largely shielded from prosecution by laws put in place when Indian troops were battling a once-potent insurgency, the Times said.  Both local and Indian forces here operate with impunity, they say.
 
“Two girls disappear next to an armed camp,” said Abdul Hamid Deva, a member of a Shopian Committee of elders set up in response to the killings. “Their bodies then mysteriously appear in a river next to the camp. It does not take much imagination to know what is likely to have happened.”
 
Residents of Shopian said the Indian forces are the only threat. “The only thing I can do now is hope justice will be done”, said Shakeel Ahmad Ahanger, Nilofar’s husband, who is struggling to care for his 2-year-old son, Suzain. “Nobody is safe in Kashmir, even a child, an elderly man, a young girl. Nobody is safe,” the Times said. »