The fact that the Indian armed forces in Kashmir have used rape as an offensive tool for control of the local populace has been alleged by many human rights organizations on the ground. A few days ago, that claim received further proof when retired Major General SP Sinha on a TV show on Hindi news channel TV9 Bharatvarsh, in India screamed “death in return for death, rape in return for rape” at the top of his voice, refusing to take back his horrific incitement despite constant calls by the moderator to do so.

It is not surprising that such views are held in India; the use of rape to take revenge on a populace is an idea that has often found currency in its hardline politics. Neither is it surprising that the person who proposed such an act was a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), a party whose leader oversaw a vicious pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Such depravity stands to reason. Veer Sarvarkar, the ideological father of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindutva, openly justified “rape as a political tool” in his book “Six Glorious Epochs”, published in 1966. It was his delirious wish, in his book, that Hindu kings and soldiers had raped the women of the defeated Muslim leaders whenever they could in the past. That wish lives on in modern India.

Therefore it is not surprising that a member of the BJP made such claims – they have said and done far worse in the past - what is surprising that a member of the armed forces, a Major General no less, holds such views. Militaries, even in times of open total warfare have observed the norms of basic human dignity and respect. The Indian armed forces maybe an institution that stands opposed to Pakistan, but one would expect them to behave with the same nobility and chivalry we expect from our own military officers. The modern army is not a barbaric horde but a civilized, cultured institution. It is disappointing to see its leaders descending to such despicable lows.

And while such pronouncements will draw justified criticism from both Pakistan and India it is harrowing to think what effects they will have on the people of Kashmir, especially women. Tortured, oppressed, and cut off from the world they have survived; now their tormentors are inciting rape to beat them into submission.