Where's the truth?

The CBI report on the alleged rape and killing of two young women in Shopian in May this year has triggered fresh protests in Jammu and Kashmir. The report says that the two were not raped or murdered but had drowned. It has given a clean chit to the policemen who were accused of raping and killing them and instead, has filed chargesheets against doctors for fabricating evidence. The report has been rejected in the Valley; Shopian and other towns are in a state of ferment once again. Even if the CBI version is true, the credibility of the Indian state in the Valley is so low that the people tend to believe that the probe was aimed more at covering up the crimes of the police and getting the state off the hook rather than unearthing the truth. A probe conducted by the Delhi-based Independent Women’s Initiative for Justice (IWIJ) indicates the many flaws in the CBI report. It has pointed out that the two women could not have drowned in the river, as claimed by the CBI, as the river had ankle-deep water only. Furthermore, on what basis is the CBI claiming that the women’s hymens were intact when the bodies it exhumed four months after burial would have decomposed? Can the CBI answer these questions?

Every time, governments in Delhi and Srinagar engage in fudging the truth about custodial killings, rapes and the like, the anger and alienation of Kashmiris from the Indian state deepens. Why would Kashmiris feel they can get justice when the state repeatedly denies it to them? It reflects the extent of suspicion and mistrust the state evokes in the people of Kashmir.

Of course, it is possible that the CBI may well say that protest has become a habit with the Kashmiris and that what they want is not a fair probe or justice but an outcome that goes against the state. If the findings of the CBI report are indeed true, the government should invite independent agencies to verify the facts and convince the people that it has no agenda of shielding anyone. It is true that Kashmir’s separatist stooges have filled the people’s ears with propaganda. But why has the Indian state done so little to counter that? We need to restore their faith in India’s democratic and judicial institutions.

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