In JK for years, PaK brides demand travel docs to return home
Srinagar, Mar 29: After moving from pillar to post ever since they landed in Kashmir with their husbands, scores of women from Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) Friday staged a protest in Srinagar’s Press Enclave asking to be allowed to return to their roots. The women, who had arrived in Kashmir with their ex-militant husbands on the state government’s programme of ‘complete rehabilitation’, decried the “false promises” made to them by the J&K government. Terming the rehabilitation policy under which they returned as a “mere eye-wash”, the women said their husbands were denied jobs, their children admissions in schools and now many of them have been divorced leaving them with no option but to seek safe passage to Muzafarabad, Mirpur and other areas of PaK. “We never knew we are landing in hell. We request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give us back our travel documents so that we can at least join our families again,” said a woman protestor who originally hails from Mirpur in PaK. The woman had returned along with her husband and three children via Nepal under the rehabilitation policy announced by the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in 2010, under which at least 450 families returned only to land in “one after another trouble.” Holding placards, the protesting women demanded returning to them their passports and other travel documents. The women blamed the government of being apathetic to their plight and impeding their return to their native land. Many of the women had brought their children along and chanted slogans like “Humein kya chaheye, zabti dastavez, (We want our seized documents back).” They appealed leaderships of India and Pakistan to intervene and end their miseries. The women claimed to have been married for more than 10 to 15 years and have been unable to return to PaK since then. “I returned with the promise of getting rehabilitated along with my husband. It’s been a decade now and all the hopes of seeing my homeland have been shattered,” said Toiba, now a resident of Baramulla. “There are many women who came with their spouses under the rehabilitation programme and couldn’t bear the brunt of staying away from their parents’ home for long. As a result, they committed suicide,” Toiba claimed adding “It’s my sister’s wedding today and I am feeling helpless since I cannot even see her.” Another woman living in Kupwara said, “In November 2018, I met Dineshwar Sharma (Centre’s interlocutor) and discussed our issues with him. After keenly listening to the problems, he responded by saying that we are basically illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are those who live in a secretive manner and we are definitely not among them,” she said adding, that “our activities are known to both central and state governments. If we are illegal then who is stopping them from deporting us?” The protesters also demanded the immediate release of the women who were recently booked under the charge of “illegal immigration.” “One of our sisters Asma Bhat has been detained. Why didn’t they arrest her the moment she got married here? After five years, they are seeing her as an illegal immigrant, which is totally unacceptable,” another protester said. “Another lady Fousia from Shopian is also lodged in a jail in Jammu. Nobody assembled here has a passport. Does this mean, you will put all of us behind the bars? We want their release at the earliest,” she said.