KUPWARA (J&K): The victims of the 1991 alleged mass rape in Kunan-Poshpora villages in north Kashmir’s Kupwara were “used by a nexus through a fake narrative”, a top Army officer posted in the Valley said on Monday.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event here, General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt General DP Pandey said that a delegation from Kunan-Poshpora villages met him around a year ago with certain development0-related demands.
“Ten-eleven months before, a delegation from Kunan-Poshpora came to me. They told me they have suffered because they were used by a nexus, especially through a fake narrative in 1991. They said they were left alone not only by the nexus but by the people of the nearby villages as well, so it is a request to do something for us,” Lt Gen Pandey told reporters here.
He further said, “They had certain demands, especially for sports development, self-employment generation training for girls, computer centres, etc. I had told them I will visit after meeting some of the demands. So, I have kept the promise made to the villagers of Kunan-Poshpora. They have some other demands which will be looked into.”
The alleged mass rape occurred on February 23, 1991, when security forces, after being fired upon by terrorists, launched a search operation in the twin villages of Kunan and Poshpora in Kupwara district. Some villagers had alleged that some women were raped by security personnel that night. The charge was to be baseless in an investigation carried out by the government. The Indian Army had also conducted thorough a probe which found the allegations to be untrue.
The senior Army officer said that the environment in Kashmir Valley was changing for good. “The biggest change which I saw here was that parents, who did not allow their daughters to go out, were voluntarily letting them go out,” he said. “It is the biggest change because there is safety and security, and if people think that girls can go out and study, then it is the biggest progress,” he stated.
The other change, he said, is that there are no terrorists in Kupwara, nor is there any terror-related activity. “The first impact of terrorism was on Kupwara district because terrorists used to come through here, used to train here,” he said, adding, “The people have seen the worst (due to terrorism) and they have understood how they were being fooled.”
Lt Gen Pandey said that the people have to make their children realise that they were being brainwashed through social media for the benefit of some rogue elements. “There is a change. Youth aged 20 to 25 to 30 years used to pick up arms first, but now they are difficult to find because they have understood this,” he said.
He said that terror organisations have shifted their focus to recruit youngsters as young as 16 years old. “Now, they are trying to lure children aged 16, 17 or 18,” the officer said. “This is an issue for you (the people). Keep an eye on your children and also keep an eye on your enemies as well as the enemies of your children,” he said.
“Save your children as they (terrorists) will take them out to die,” Lt Gen Pandey added.
Stressing on the readiness of security forces to deal with cross-border terrorism and infiltration, he said, “If they (terrorists) try, the forces are alert and ready. If anyone wants to come (infiltrate from Pakistan to India), he is welcome,” he said. “I am sure the people of Kupwara will inform us if anyone comes and we will neutralise them.”
He also said that local recruitment in terror ranks was down this year compared to the previous years.
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