It has been 25 years and still the troopers of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) who gang raped a bride and her pregnant aunt and butchered an innocent teen in South Kashmir are roaming free.
The militancy that time was at its peak, however, the tradition of night barat had not stopped yet, but that horrible incident sent chills down everyone’s spine and the tradition of night barat was discontinued all across Kashmir Valley.
Recounting the horror, several eyewitness told CNS that it was May 18, 1990 when at 12:15 in the night a Barat (marriage party) left from Muhripora along with bride and groom towards its destination to Lissar Chawalgam hamlet near Kokarnag in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
“We left from the house of Muhammad Akbar Ganaie in Muhripora in a bus (JKF-1373) and there were all but 27 to 30 bharati’s and all were in high spirits. As our bus reached at Boniyan tal (near chinar trees) in Hakhoora village, the BSF troopers posted there ordered the driver to stop and directed him to switch off the lights of the bus. We did not anticipate any trouble and thought these troopers will check our identity cards and will search the bags and boxes,” said Gul Muhammad who was part of the Barat on that fateful night.
“The BSF men suddenly targeted our bus and started fired indiscriminately on us. We started screaming and it was scary. Every barati tried to hide themselves under bus seats. The firing continued for sometime leaving a barati (bride’s brother) dead on spot while nine others including the cousin of the bride were injured. The groom Abdul Rashid was also hit by a bullet,” the eyewitnesses said adding that they can’t express the gruesome incident in words. “It was horrible, scary. After the shooting they came inside and started to beat everyone. We lay down under the seats and pretended to be dead,” they said.
“The debauch and immoral BSF troopers dragged the bride Mubeena Akhtar and her maternal aunt, Aamina into the nearby field and gang raped them. We were helpless and could not stop those corrupt troopers from tarnishing their chastity,” they said adding that those troopers after raping the bride and her maternal aunt, pumped five bullets into the body of the bride, injuring her critically. Mubeena herself said that, “Indian BSF troopers dragged me and my 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.”
Though Mubeena and her husband somehow recovered but they have not been able to come out of the trauma. “I don’t want to talk about that fateful night. My wife wanted to end her life but I stopped and supported her. It was not her fault. She is innocent while guilty are those who indulged in such inhuman act,” said Abdul Rashid the husband of the victim.
The eyewitnesses including the parents of the rape victim are all praise for Abdul Rashid who despite all odds stood beside Mubeena.
One of the relatives of the bride who lost his right arm due to grave bullet injury told CNS that they never expected justice from the authorities at the helm of affairs. “Here rapists and killers are always shielded. Though, a formal FIR vide number 53/1990 under section 302 RPC was lodged against the guilty BSF troopers in police station and a challan was registered in the Anantnag district court, the case was however later closed for unknown reasons,” he said adding that the copy of police report lying with the family clearly reads that the BSF troopers resorted to unprovoked firing and then sexually assaulted Mubeena and her aunt Amina.
Indian officials initially claimed that the bus had accidentally been caught in a cross-fire. However, the then Superintendent of Police Anantnag later confirmed that the BSF had fired on the bus indiscriminately and that the two women had been gang-raped.