Srinagar, November 07, 2019 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, ever since Narendra Modi’s communal government repealed the special status of Kashmir in August and placed the territory under a massive military lockdown, life has been a struggle for the Kashmiris. While men historically make up most protesters in occupied Kashmir and are often the first arrested or physically abused in crackdowns, experts say that Kashmiri women are suffering from the lockdown in their own less visible way.
Sumaira Bilal, wife of Kashmiri detainee Bilal Ahmed, who was detained on the night of Aug 5, says that her daughter points to the window often and calls for her father “Baba, Baba, when are you coming back?”.
Zahida Jahangir’s son was born premature and weak. He was rushed from the clinic where he was born to the neo-natal intensive care unit in a children’s hospital across town. The lockdown made it nearly impossible to visit her son or even communicate with the hospital. Zahida was separated from her son for the first 20 days of his life, and though he is now healthy, the experience has created what she says is a pain only a mother could know and left her with regrets that will last a lifetime.
Kulsuma Rameez’s wedding was scheduled for during the lockdown and she was unable to go shopping for the wedding dress she dreamed of. Instead she was married in a borrowed dress at a small ceremony attended by a few relatives and neighbors. After the ceremony, she had to walk to her new home as the roads were blocked.
Photojournalist Masrat Zahra was covering the first Friday protest since the lockdown when a police officer threatened to kick her. She notes that Kashmiri women can’t leave their homes without a male companion out of fear they’ll be harassed by soldiers. Nevertheless, she is undeterred. “You cannot remain silent,” Masrat says. “If you come out and speak, someone will hear your voice. Coming out to work is my way of protesting.”
“‘I’ll kick you with my boots and take you to the governor’s house,’” a policeman told Zahra. Ateeqa Begum has lived alone ever since her only son 22-year-old Fasil Aslam Mir, the family’s sole breadwinner, was arrested on his way home after fetching medicines for her on the day the lockdown began. “My son has been shifted to a jail in an Indian city and I have no means to travel there to see him,” she says.
A doctor at a hospital in Srinagar, Sabahat Rasool says she’s seen the lockdown forever alter lives. She tells the story of a pregnant woman who refused to be admitted to the hospital because she had no way to tell her family that she wouldn’t be coming home and didn’t want them to worry that she had been kidnapped. She was brought in unconscious the next day. “She survived but lost her unborn baby,” Sabahat said.
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Kashmir Media Service
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