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Kashmir: Hope Still Lives & Dreams Shall Never Die

Sheikh Farkhanda,

When talking about a society, especially an Islamic one, women’s role in character and nation building is no less than that of their male counterparts. Due to the centric and pivotal significance they have, women are the backbone of any social skeleton. Social learning and grooming of humans starts from the mother’s lap and continues for years. This female role embodies many transformations; be it a mother, sister, wife or a daughter; the feminine impact overshadows the entire social fabric. The ideals and morales of a society are dependent and ultimate product of feminine role in a society. When we talk about Kashmiri women, their sacrifices, their courage, their compassion and their morales are passing through a test phase. Women in Kashmir have suffered immensely due to the ongoing conflict in the region. Many have lost their husbands, sons, fathers and loved ones. There are also around 1,500 “half-widows” who remain unaware of their husbands’ whereabouts. The agony and pain of ultimate feelings after these state-sponsored brutalitities cannot be expressed in words.

But the journey of struggle goes on. Here, one must specifically appreciate the mothers of this Motherland (KASHMIR). Kashmir, the most exceedingly awful casualties of this contention are the mothers of this region that is under occupation since more than 7 decades. The furrowed faces of Kashmiri women are declaration of the way of how tears dried while grieving the demise of darling child. Just a Mother comprehends what it is to cover a tyke whom she has a bolstered for nine long months in her womb. Her blood will speak of how she sustained her child in the obscurity. Thousands of sons have sacrificed their lives for the liberation movement of Kashmir while thousands have disappeared.

The armed conflict in Kashmir, in the past 30 years, has forced the women of the Valley to take on new roles. With their sons, husbands, brothers or fathers serving jail sentences in different parts of Kashmir and India, some died and some are still missing, these women had to shoulder heavy responsibilities within and outside the home. Not only have they faced up to the situation bravely, their difficulties and personal tragedies have actually empowered them. The agonies of life have become a source of strength for Kashmiri women.

A golden example of whom is Asiya Andrabi Kashmiri, a role model for Kashmiri women, and the founding leader of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the nation), also a mother of two sons. She could have chosen an easy path for her and her sons but she chose to fight, she chose to sleep on the rugged floor of Tihar jail, the most notorious jail even worst then Abu Ghareeb of Iraq, rather than quitting fight against the India brutalities. She never calls herself a victim; she is freedom fighter and she has vowed to continue her struggle till her last breath.

This is not one single example; there are thousands of such stories of brave mothers of Kashmir. Nabza Bano, a 83-year-old, mother of three martyred sons who lives in a small house in the Sundbrari village of the south of Kashmir says, “My sons sacrificed their life for the right cause, but now I wish I too had got martyred along with them,” said Nabza.

“Only my age stops me from joining the armed struggle against highest military occupation concentration of the world. But I have strong hope that we will achieve independence one day.”

Kashmiri women are the one who never afraid of dying, the one who never afraid of losing her father, her husband, and her son. The one who never surrender because courage lies in the heart of Kashmiri women who dream of freedom. It’s being more than 70 years of occupation in the valley but they even never think to surrendering and demanding their united nation endorsed right of self-determination.

In other conflict zones, there are designated safe area that are kept under the eye of the united nation and international media but in Kashmir, there is no safe area for Kashmiri people and no witnesses of systematic killings torture of civilians. Rape is systematically used by Indian security forces to demoralized Kashmiri people. According to the reports, Kashmiri women are amongst the worst sufferers of sexual violence in the world.

It’s being decades, Kashmiri women are fighting the battle against all injustices and crime against humanity. Heart wrenching stories of pain, wounded souls, compressed lips and anxious eyes reflects their suffering and desolation. But the dream of freedom keeps them alive. As thousands more sacrifice their lives every day for the freedom to breathe on their own accord, behind their courage is the lessons taught by the brave mothers of the mother land (Kashmir). It is the lessons taught by them that these brave young warriors don’t lose hope in the everyday struggle for the freedom. Mother of Zahid Ahmad Mir who was killed in an encounter with Indian occupied forces expresses her pain but she also has not lost hope, she says. “A mother can have many children, but she cannot bear this kind of separation. It is not easy, but that was the path he chose, in God’s way, and I accept it wholeheartedly”.

Soutik Biswas BBC correspondent in his article ,”The angry housewives setting Kashmir ablaze” says that when I asked a Kashmiri woman protestor during anti India protest ,why she is chanting slogans and pelting stones over Indian forces she told me that “Why should I not protest? Why should I not pick up a stone? I am doing this in the honour of my martyred son. I am doing this for aazadi (freedom)”

Dr Aaliya Anjum Assistant Professor and Assistant Director, Center for Human Rights Studies in her article “The militant in her: Women and Resistance” explains why kashmiri women defy state oppression by being on the frontlines. She says when these women protestant women were asked such question they say that.”We have lost patience. They have killed our sons and brothers. How do you expect us to be mute spectators?” Some said they had joined protests in solidarity with those who had lost their loved ones. Others thought that they, as women, also have a participatory role in the struggle against injustice and the demand for freedom. In addition to this, in keeping with their assigned gender roles, they also cooked for – and distributed drinking water to – their fellow protesters.”

Renowned Kashmiri woman Journalist Souzeina Mushtaq says in her write up “Happy Independence Day” You failed to suppress our courage. You failed to subject our aspirations under PSA or any other draconian law, and you miserably failed to kill our dreams. Imposing section 144, installing barricades, setting concertina wires can restrict us physically but our thoughts and vision have crossed all barriers. No power on earth can restrict them, not even your numerous army. The conversation which was left midway can be continued later. We can always pick up from where we had left. Two hundred years of slavery, and you got your freedom. We too shall witness ours”. In my opinion it is the hope and dream that still lives in the minds of kashmiri women and it is a universal fact that dreams shall never die. Days are not far away when hopes will come true and dreams will be materialized.

Note:   (Writer is a student of Media Sciences at Riphah Institute of Media Sciences Islamabad (RIMS))

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