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International Widows Day and IIOJK

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As the world observed the International Widows Day (23 Jun 2024), Kashmiri women continue to suffer at the hands of Indian troops, paramilitary, police and dreaded agencies in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK)

According the a report released by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service on the occasion of the International Widows Day, the unabated Indian state terrorism rendered 22,976 women widowed since January 1989 till date as their husbands were martyred by Indian troops in fake encounters and in custody.

It said around 2,500 women have been forced to live as half widows during the past 36 years. The women whose husbands were subjected to custodial disappearance after arrest by Indian army and Police are referred to as half widows and several of them died due to mental tension.

According to the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and other human rights groups in IIOJK, around 8,000 thousand civilians have disappeared in the custody of Indian troops and police personnel since 1989, it said. For years, half widows in IIOJK have been running from one Indian army and paramilitary camps to another trying to find the whereabouts of their husbands, it added. The report maintained that 684 martyred by the troops and paramilitary forces since January 2001 till date. It pointed out that women constitute the majority of the Kashmiris suffering from multiple psychic problems and mental torture.

“Due to unending agony, Kashmir widows and half-widows are suffering from psychological and other problems. As per a study, women comprise more than 60 percent of psychiatric patients in IIOJK”, it added.

According to Zeya Mir, a clinical psychologist in Srinagar, physical illness takes priority for many people. Mental illness is not visible in the same wav. So it is difficult to understand it. “Stigma is attached to mental illness. Someone visiting a psychiatrist is considered crazy, which is why not many people even speak about it”, Mir said.

Heal expert say that the continued presence of extra troops on the streets of the world’s most militarized zone and mass arrests of civilians have led to an increase in trauma and anxiety, particularly among women and children.

“Imagine the family of a person who loved one has either been killed or detained, or the families who houses get damaged or entirely burnt down during the militant-military encounters”, said Dr Junaid Nabi, a psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (IMHAMS) in Kashmir. “Since women often find themselves the sole manager of household, sole parent or caretaker of elders in Kashmir, they suffer more”.

The report said the Kashmiri women are targeted for raising their voices against Indian brutalities. Dozens of women including aged Hurriyet Aasia Andrabi, Fahmeeda Sofi, Naheeda Nasreen, Shahroza Bano, Aafreena Ganie, Munira Begum and Ishrat Rasool have been languishing in different jails of India and IIOJK for their true political demand of right to self-determination, it said.

The report underscored that the International Widows Day is a reminder for the world to realize the plight of Kashmiri widows and half-widows.

Meanwhile, civil society representatives Dr Zubair Ahmed, Muhammad Furhan, Muhammad Iqbal Shaheen, Syed Haider Hussain and Institute and Documentatiojn Centre (IDC) Professor Farhan Ali in their statements said that the Kashmiri women are the worst victims of Indian state terrorism in IIOJK. They said thousands of women have lost their husbands, brothers and sons as they were martyred or subjected to custodial disappearance by Indian troops. After 2019, the agony of Kashmiri women has increased manifold, as the authorities brutal acts and have not been handing over the bodies of their martyred dear one to them in the territory.

As the world grapples with the findings of the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service report, it serves as a clarion call for urgent action to address the grave human rights violations tarnishing India’s democratic fabric. The onus lies not only on the Indian government but also on the international community to uphold the values of justice, equality, and dignity for all.       

International human rights organizations and commissions to exert pressure on Indian urging release the prisoners in IIOJK

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