On the evening of 27 February 2009, as a lone security guard shut the heavy metallic door with a thud, an 18-year-old Kashmiri lay curled in a corner of a Srinagar prison cell, naked, howling, and writhing in pain. He knew he was bleeding—he could feel the blood coming out of his rectum—but he couldn’t bring himself to look. More than the pain, he said, it was the humiliation that was unbearable.
Earlier that day, half a dozen policemen entered his cell and stripped him naked. Five policemen then took turns to sodomise him, the survivor, now 27 years old said. The others watched, recording the act on video, laughing, spitting at him, and hurling abuses.
After they left, another policeman walked in. “I thought he would console me, but he was more brutal,” the 27-year-old, a resident of Downtown in Srinagar, recounted. “He dragged me to the middle of the prison cell, unzipped his pants and thrust himself inside me. I cried out loud and then my voice choked. It felt as if the flesh inside me had been burnt. After that, I blacked out. He was more cruel, like a mad dog.”
In 2009, six months after the Amarnath land transfer dispute and the subsequent civilian deaths in Kashmir, the 27-year-old would often join protestors in his neighbourhood to pelt stones at the Indian security forces. On 25 February, while pelting stones outside the Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta, Srinagar, he was chased by the police, thrashed and arrested. During the three months he spent in prison, he said was repeatedly tortured—including having a roller moved over his legs, being beaten with bamboo sticks, and being kept without food and water for days. But it was after being forcefully sodomised twice by policemen that he said he was completely broken, unable to even look at himself in the mirror when he returned home.
“Every time I took a bath, I would cry,” the 27-year-old said. “At night, I felt insects crawling all over my body. I had frequent nightmares of some ghastly creatures molesting me. And I couldn’t tell anyone about it.”