Srinagar, Mar 12: A few months into her second marriage, twenty-nine-year-old Moomina (name changed), was in utter shock when she recently logged in her Facebook account. Her ex-husband had splashed her pictures with obscene captions all over the social media platform.
Moomina endured her first marriage for around two months, during which she was locked up and beaten black and blue by her husband, who had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and was mentally unwell. His family had conveniently hidden these issues from Moomina’s before marriage.
Then one night, when her husband had forgotten locking the door, Moomina fled away. She soon filed for a divorce and got it within a year.
The pictures on her Facebook profile however meant the ordeal hadn’t ended. She filed a complaint in the cyber police station, desperate to hide the pictures from her new husband. But her persistence didn’t pay off – the complaint moved at a snail’s pace. The stock response of police was: the IP address of perpetrator is being identified. Meanwhile, her husband discovered the pictures, and out of fear, anger and shame she tried to end her life.
Moomina survived as her kin saved her in the nick of time.
But everyone is not as lucky as Moomina.
A twenty-year-old girl from Pulwama was one such unlucky victim of cyber bullying. Last week, she consumed some poisonous substance and was found frothing at her mouth by her family. They hurriedly shifted her to SMHS hospital here, where she was declared brought dead.
The family members of the girl accused a youth from Keller village for sharing her photograph on social media.
“She was very perturbed by the photograph which made her commit suicide,” her father said, adding that they approached police authorities and lodged a complaint against the accused.
He claimed that a man from Kellar village of Shopian blackmailed her daughter, and compelled her to take the extreme set up.
“I am yet to come to terms that I have lost my daughter. We want justice, and the perpetrator should be put behind the bars,” the dead girl’s father said.
Once uncommon in Kashmir, suicides are now reported almost every other day in the valley.
Official data carves a grim picture. Alone in 2018, 750 people with suicidal intent were treated at SMHS. The patients were below the age of 30.
Data also shows that suicide rate is increasing significantly among women. Of the total number in 2018, 490 were females.
Registrar SMHS hospital, Dr Khawar Khan Achakzai told The Kashmir Monitor that on an average daily two cases of poisoning with suicidal intent are reported at the hospital.
“In some cases, the patients consume poisonous substances, mostly pesticides used for apple cultivation, which are readily available in rural areas.
“The patients who take substantial doses (of poison) need timely intervention within one or two hours after consumption, as they are susceptible to cardio respiratory failure,” Dr Achakzai said.
Such patients, he said, are usually put on mechanical ventilators.
“The reasons (for committing suicide) are usually failure in examinations, love affairs that run awry, domestic abuse, altercation with family members,” the doctor added.
He said that usually in rural areas, the patients are first taken to local dispensaries, where the stomach wash is done by administering hyper-saline water, which increases the sodium levels in blood and a person can die of hypernatremia (rise in serum sodium concentration in a body).
Dr Saima Farhad, a senior assistant professor who teaches social work at Kashmir University, said the suicide of a teenage girl in Pulwama has again shifted light on the problem females endure on a daily basis forcing them to take such extreme measures.
“We need to understand what is driving this behavior? Is it the anticipation of the threat of posting (on social media)? Or the actual act of posting that’s leading to such incidents,” said Dr Farhad.
“The reaction time taken by social media platforms needs to be checked. They should be quick to respond. Facebook and Twitter need to tweak their strategy according to local cultural nuances to avoid such incidents. For instance, what is shameful for a girl in sub-continent might be very different from (what is shameful for one in) the West,” she explained.
“Having said that, social media platforms have created a number of protection mechanisms – protect your profile picture, choose the audience you share your content with etc.” she added.
Dr Yasir Rather, Neuro-psychiatrist and De-Addiction Specialist at SMHS defined online harassment–also known as cyber-bullying– as “hurting someone else using social networking or online sites.”
“This includes sending messages, posting threatening, intimidating comments, and posting humiliating pictures,” said Dr Rather.
Cyber bullying, he said, can have very negative effects on the psyche of a victim.
“The effects can come in the form of emotional distress, anger, frustration and depression, and loss of self-esteem. They can even indulge in self-harm behavior. At times they may become so withdrawn that they won’t talk to family and prefer isolation.”
Dr Rather said that the problem of online harassment is often faced by young.
“Mostly adolescents, and more specifically, girls are the victims,” he said.
“They usually come with complaints of self-harm behavior and upon asking, they report about cyber bullying as precipitating factor or stressor,” he said.
Dr Rather said there was need for some preventive measures including control on media.
Not holding simultaneous elections will impact voter turnout in LS polls: Experts
Srinagar, Mar 19: Not holding Assembly and Parliamentary polls together is likely to impact the overall voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the valley, claim valley based experts in politics.
This year many new parties have come to the fore and the Centre is likely to enhance its deployment of forces in Kashmir to ensure “violence free elections.”
However with spontaneous disturbance across the valley coupled with delaying of the Assembly elections by the Centre, the experts claim a major proportion of the people are likely to keep away from casting their votes.
“Parliamentary election in Kashmir usually invite low voter turnout. Had it been both Lok Sabha and General Assembly elections held together in the state the voter turnout could be expected higher. As of now, we don’t see chances of any major turn out in voting ahead especially in Kashmir,” said Prof Gul Muhammad Wani who teaches Political Science at Kashmir University.
Wani expressed doubt over the participation of newly formed parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“I am not sure if these smaller parties will field their candidates. Even if their leaders file nomination, people won’t vote for them in huge proportion compared to the two main political parties of Kashmir (NC and PDP),” Wani said.
“Many parties will use this election to mobilise people for the upcoming assembly elections,” he said.
In 2014 LS polls, 49.7 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir. Barring Jammu, people mostly in Kashmir prefer to choose boycott over ballot as only 11.46% voter turnout was recorded in summer capital.
In 2017 by-polls, the turnout in Srinagar dipped further to only seven percent as violence and killing gripped the valley on poll day.
Prof Noor Ahmad Baba, another expert in politics, claims the parliamentary elections in Kashmir won’t be a “bigger affair” as he believes that there are less “reaction” votes from the valley.
“In other states people vote to express their dissent, which is not in case of Kashmir. Some people will vote here positively. The turnout is expected to be higher in Assembly polls ahead,” he said.
Prof Baba said the emergence of new parties too won’t woo many people to cast their vote for them.
“These new parties won’t have much impact immediately. Sajad Lone has no appeal outside Baramulla and Shah Faesal too can’t make a bigger difference. However, if NC and Congress form an alliance then some may come out to vote,” he said.
Slow repair work halts cross-LoC trade in Uri
Traders fear losses in crores
Srinagar, Mar 19: The Cross-LoC trade in Uri has hugely suffered due to snail-paced repair work on the Kamaan Post Bridge, traders rued on Tuesday.
As per them, around 116 trucks are stuck at Uri road in north Kashmir while 24 others are stranded at Traders Federation Center Salamabad. The stranded trucks are carrying delicate items including fruits and vegetables which cannot be preserved for long course of time.
Aggrieved over the losses, the Cross-LoC Traders Association claimed that the delicate goods in stranded trucks have been damaged due to the delay.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Hilal Turki, chairman, Cross-LoC Traders’ Association, said the items in the trucks have almost “perished” as around two weeks have passed since the repairing work started.
“The losses might be in crores as there are 140 trucks stranded. We have written to the Director General of Police to seek the intervention for speedy repairing of the bridge,” he said.
In a letter to government authorities, the association stated: “Our traders mostly deal with fresh items and the value of those items is in millions of rupees, here we would like to bring in your kind notice that most of the products come from all over the country and as such our loaded fresh trucks remain in transit for a week or more due to this uncomfortable situation our traders are desperately waiting for speedy repairing of Kamaan Pull so that heavy losses can be saved.”
Earlier on March 9, police communicated to the concern authorities that due to the sustained use of Kaman Aman Setu for cross-LoC trade for a long period, the bridge has suffered some damages which requires immediate repair to prevent further deportation.
“Inspection of the bridge was carried out on March 8, 2019, which indicated that the bridge needs urgent repairs and maintenance to ensure its longevity. The repair would require minimum 10-15 days,” he said.
However, around two weeks after, the repair work is still on at a very slow pace.
Riyaz Malik, SDM, Uri told The Kashmir Monitor that the resurfacing work in Kamaan Post bridge is going on. “Trade is suspended since then as work is going on and it will take 10-15 more days to allow traffic on the bridge. We have advised the traders to get the items down some where in Srinagar,” Riyaz said.
Cross-LoC trade and the bus service between India and Pakistan were suspended last month too, in backdrop of the Pulwama suicide attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.
Centre misusing NIA to target Kashmiris: Soz
Srinagar, Mar 19: Alleging that Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre was misusing National Investigation Agency (NIA) to target Kashmiris, senior Congress leader Prof Saifuddin Soz on Tuesday said this will be useless and counter-productive.
The former union minister supported chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who has asked NIA to question him in Srinagar as he cannot travel Delhi for security reasons.
In a statement here this afternoon, Prof Soz said, “I give credence to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s stand that he should be questioned anywhere in Srinagar and not asked to travel to NIA headquarters in Delhi”.