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Dear Sisters,

I am…I could be Subaida, Shameema, Khurshida…I could be living in any of the districts of Pulvama, Shopiyan or Bandipura…but I am the woman, one of the tens of thousands of women living in Kashmir. Mine was a quiet life with a security and safety many of you might not even dream of. Yes, the picture postcard beauty of Kashmir with its lakes and houseboats, the lotus filled waterways and pretty girls with cheeks like apples that you must have studied and seen in your social science books and tourist brochures.

But since August 5th 2019, my life has been filled with darkness and fear. This does not bring out the best in a human being especially the Kashmiriyat culture that is also famous for the values of humanism and tolerance we have practised for years. The fear in us makes us lose trust and love. Because we feel we have been cheated and treated unfairly. Imagine living in your own house like it is a jail. Imagine being cut off from your friends and relatives, from your sons and daughters, your parents and your beloved for no fault of yours. Imagine being denied basic rights like access to movement, medical help, education and livelihood. Imagine living in darkness and hunger just because a country, a neighbour decides to revoke a Constitutional article. Imagine wanting to cry,shout, scream, wail and beat the walls around you in anger, sorrow, desperation and indignation…and then Imagine having to be silent because this may lead to your dear ones being taken away…it could be your father, brother, husband and son who would be taken away without any explanation and to live in fear for their lives and health…….

Perhaps you would not be able to imagine…sitting in the comfort zone of your secure lives…even I would not have been able to imagine this extreme anguish that humans mete out to humans. The worst part it is that all of this is being done for the good development of our region, to bring peace and harmony. But it seems so improbable that peace and harmony, progress for human welfare and good can be brought by suppressing the basic democratic rights of people.  Should we not  have been asked or consulted before such an overpowering decision is imposed on us overnight? The shock that a little girl who lit a lamp to study got on an evening when the law keepers barged into their home only to take away her father and brother for negating the curfew imposed is unimaginable! Imagine a small 4 year child signalling silence by keeping her finger on her lips the moment she hears dogs barking signalling patrolling by paramilitary force! Imagine having to sacrifice your son’s or husband’s life or freedom just because you switched on the mobile light to take your little daughter to the toilet at night!

The desperate helplessness of doctors unable to complete their duties to patients, of women in the final stages of pregnancy wrought by anxiety if they can reach a hospital, the urgent need for medical help to the aged and terminally ill are all issues that strikes a person trying to imagine what the presence of an unreasonable military can do…the inability to access AyushmanBharath Health Plan which can be done only through internet has been denied to many…

The  Military demands the parents to give money to release their young sons to the tune of Rupees 20-60,000! We  have learnt to keep the door latches half open so that the military can break in easy. We try  to send elderly men to open the door as soon as a knock is heard in the hope that they will be treated with some respect – much to our  shock, they are also abused and mistreated.

We request you to stand by us and carry our voices for freedom and democracy, for participation and consultation in decisions that affect our lives and that of our children

With immense patience

Sisters from Kashmir

Based on the report WOMENS VOICE: Fact Finding Report on Kashmir Sept 17th-21st 2019 with eminent members like Annie Raja, KawaljitKaur, PankhuriZaheer from National Federation of Indian Women, PoonamKaushik from PragatisheelMahilaSangathan and SyedaHameed from Muslim Women’s Forum

All through this journey, there are 2 things that have emerged: one is the endless urge and desire for freedom from both India and Pakistan. Betrayed by a country which was closest to their heart, the people of Kashmir want to be liberated from years of fear and subjugation. The second is the deep and heartbreaking wails of women who have suffered and tolerated the death of their young ones…What greater sorrow is there than that of a mother who lives in fear of losing her child? Of having her little one’s tender face torn by pellets, of having to support a young one who has lost his/her eyesight. The women demand in one voice- to have a secure, safe life for their children away from guns and pellets.

The fact finding team that went to Kashmir from India on the 45th day came out with an honest and deeply moving narrative which concludes with the following demands and urgent needs:-

  • To restore peace and normalcy India has to urgently reinstate Article 370 and 35A.
  • There is need to withdraw all military and paramilitary forces that were deployed in huge numbers since August 5th.
  • The path to normalcy can be achieved by reinstating the basic transportation, communication needs of the people whereby access to proper health care, food and education will be brought back.
  • To constitute a Commission that will enquire and investigate into the inhuman and unfair intimidating behaviour of the military forces in both Jammu and Kashmir.
  • To withdraw the FIR and Cases that have been imposed on many innocent people since August 5th and to release the youth unfairly imprisoned.
  • Only by doing all this can we reinstate the trust and faith that this region has placed in India.

Only then can “the huge ice mountain of fear melt and flow down the Himalayas as the mighty Ganga…”

(Hindi poet Dushyath’spoem )

Shared and translated into Malayalam by Dr.IrisKoileo as part of the Streekootayma’s initiative to hold a dialogue on 8th October 2019 in Thiruvananthapuram.

Anitha.S (anithasharma2007@gmail.com)  in conversation with Iris Koileo, GeethaNazeer, AleyammaVijayan, Mercy Alexander, Parvathy Devi, R, Santhi,S,Devika,J ,SeetaDasan,and many friends who attended the meeting.


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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for this!! It is now becoming so hard to feel good about the nation. There is no way other than breaking the insidious silence on Kashmir which makes us all collaborators with this unholy regime.

  2. ASHOK SHARMA says:

    Truly gripping and sad indeed… Hope they will see the light at the end of the tunnel… If winter comes, can spring be far behind .

  3. The suffering and agony of the desperate people, especially women and children have come out poignantly in this article. All my appreciation to the fact finding team and Anitha who heard them and wrote this letter in her inimical style, simple and straight from the heart. The picture that goes with this piece is heartrendingly haunting. When will peace and justice come to the beautiful valley, one wonders!

  4. Sending prayers .Will ask the We love mass meditation if one can be set up for you.This needs to be resolved very soon for you.

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