Women in IoK under inhumane siege!

by SAIMA ZAMAN

178

India’s breach of article 370 of its constitution, which gave special status and autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, is indeed a human rights tragedy. Article 370 of the Indian constitution had granted autonomy to the region. After it was revoked, India put Kashmir under a complete military lockdown. Phone and internet lines were shut off, leaving more than seven million people in the region unable to contact the outside world. Authorities have reportedly detained at least 4,000 people since Delhi’s announcement.
Arrests have made under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978, which allows people to be imprisoned for up to two years without charge or trial. Those arrested include prominent politicians, activists, business leaders and lawyers. Many have reportedly been flown out of Kashmir to prison. Before announcing the decision, one of the government’s arguments for scrapping Article 370 was that it would lead to gender equality and the emancipation of women in the Muslim-majority region.
But days later, a number of the politicians with India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made sexist comments directed towards Kashmiri women. The misery and agony of the women of Indian occupied Kashmir is not a new phenomenon. On February 23, 1991, as India carried out a large military operation, soldiers allegedly raped more than 30 women in two villages, Kunan and Poshpora, in the Kupwara district.
The Indian Army has always denied the allegations, but in a report issued by United Nations it was clearly mentioned that there has been no progress in the Kunan Poshpora mass rape case from 1991, and authorities continue to thwart attempts of the survivors to get justice. It is actually the proof of the painful incident. The enormity of the sufferings of the kashmiri women in IOK must surely impel the international community to respond. Thousands of men and boys have been abducted, forcibly disappeared from their homes, workplaces, fields, the streets, leaving huge numbers of half widows.
The wives of the missing, striving to raise their children, experience severe and complex economic, legal, social and psychological problems. At present everyone in Kashmir is being immensely subjugated but women are the biggest victims of this inhumane siege. Actually, Kashmir is a volcano waiting to erupt. During the years of conflict in Kashmir, it’s not only the half widows who have suffered. The half orphans have also suffered heavily under the weight of lives with little opportunity.
As a child’s self-esteem is wrapped in the identity of a missing father, a generation of children is now living through the confusion of broken dreams. The women and girls of Kashmir have grown up knowing too much, too fast about conflict, trauma, bombs and violence. In the reach for equality many women and girls are left behind without a voice. Enforced disappearances in Kashmir have created an aura of fear that weakens the families of the missing with invasive collateral damage. The common opinion of many families is that they have been deprived of all rights and means of protection.
Relatives of the missing are often left in a grueling state of uncertainty, where they can neither mourn nor live with any happiness. A protest on August 9, when people took to the streets after Friday prayers, marked Soura as the focal point of resistance to the Indian government’s decision. As residents from surrounding neighbourhoods joined the demonstration, the crowd swelled to at least 10,000, according to local police sources.
Since then, Soura has been the scene of smaller demonstrations and daily running battles with the security forces. Despite the best efforts by India to silence and subdue them, the Kashmiris have been fighting for self determination for hundreds of years. Today, imperial efforts to control the valley continue albeit quite ironically in the garb of nationalism. India’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status thus is nothing other than yet another act of shameless imperialist aggression but it will merely remain a dream.

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