About 16 years back, Carmen Greentree, then 22, took time out of her surfing to explore spirituality under Dalai Lama in the Himalayas in May 2004. However, what promised to be an ethereally edifying experience, turned out to be Greentree’s worst nightmare after she was duped by scammers masquerading as government tourism operators and subsequently held her captive on a houseboat in Kashmir where she was raped dozens of times and thrashed when she pleaded to leave.
Greentree has painstakingly chronicled her excruciating past in a book, hoping to rest the demons that continue to haunt her. She has penned down her painful ordeal in a book titled “A Dangerous Pursuit of Happiness” narrating in striking details about her abduction and her subsequent recovery from the traumatic experience.
Carmen Greentree, then known as Carmen Buecher, was a fledgling professional surfer who had trained alongside seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore and competed all over the world on the pro circuit in 2002-03. However, after failing to make the Women’s World Championship Tour in 2003, she decided to take a temporary sabbatical from surfing and explore spirituality.
She booked a course at Dalai Lama’s hermitage in Dharamshala, a town cradled in the midst of snow-clad Himalayan mountains and set off from Sydney airport for New Delhi. While she was warned of unscrupulous private operators wanting to swindle the tourists, she still fell victim to the scammers pretending to be government tourism operators.
The Australian was tricked by a scammer who persuaded her to fly to Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir instead of the circuitous 14-hour bus journey from New Delhi to Dharamshala.
Carmen Greentree was picked up on May 27, 2004, by a Kashmiri man named Rafiq Ahmad Dundoo who cautioned her that it was dangerous for women to be alone in Kashmir. Dundoo took her to a houseboat named Y H Sunbeam on Dal Lake and asked her to spend the night on the boat before boarding a bus to Dharamshala the next morning.
However, soon after Greentree arrived on the boat, she realised the evil intentions of Dundoo who tried to force himself on her on the first night itself. For initial few days, Greentree tried to repulse Dundoo’s amorous advances but later she gave in, hoping against hope that once he raped her he would let her go.
“The worst feeling was when I gave in and let him take what he wanted,” she said.
But Greentree soon realised that Dundoo was in no mood to let her go. Dundoo raped her every night and whenever he wished to in the next two months when she was held captive and flogged her mercilessly whenever she pleaded him to leave her.
“I lost count of how many times he raped me. I have tried to shunt that experience so much so that I no longer remember the assaults any more,” said Greentree.
“He was a man without moral scruples and was clearly didn’t care about it. He showed me he had the intention to do harm to me and he felt not an ounce of guilt for what he was doing to me,” Greentree said.
Even Dundoo’s family members served as mute spectators, overlooking the physical abuse and molestation Greentree was subjected to. The Australian pro surfer said that Dundoo’s elderly mother and father, two brothers, his wife and their wife and their baby were all on the houseboat but none of them helped her escape.
She expressed her anguish to Dundoo’s father, hopeful of shaking his conscience. However, the old man contemptuously turned down Greentree’s requests. Dundoo’s two brothers thought women to be property, and silently consented and condoned their brother’s inhuman behaviour, Greentree said.
Greentree further adds that she was coerced to dress like traditional Kashmiri women, including headscarf, and ate meals with the family. She was also asked to work around the boat, helping women with the cooking, cleaning and sorting grains of rice, and laundry. She was also heavily pressurised to pray 5 times a day. A copy of Qur’an with English translation was given to her.
Greentree’s miseries came to an end when her captive’s avarice resulted in her release. Her captor, Dundoo, in his rapacious greed to extort money in exchange of her release, was caught by the police in a dramatic operation after the officials boarded the houseboat and freed Greentree.
Dundoo and his brother Shabir Ahmad Dundoo were arrested by the police and her passport and her other belongings were retrieved from them. However, they never faced the justice because Greentree was too traumatised to testify against them and therefore the case against them collapsed. They were released after being held for 6 months in the jail.
Similar to Greentree’s abduction, a British backpacker was kidnapped and extorted on the same boats nine years earlier. The British backpacker contacted Greentree earlier last week, claiming that he was abducted by the same family nine years earlier and extorted for all his money. She is alarmed that there might be other victims of such atrocities as well and regrets her decision of not visiting India for testifying against the Dundoo family for abducting and raping her.