Nowhere brides: PoK women feel the pangs of separation

first_imgCaught in the tangle of an official rehabilitation policy, the Kashmir Valley is no longer a ‘honeymooners paradise’ for 27-year-old Kubra Gillani.Ms. Gillani, a resident of Domail in Muzaffarbad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), met Altaf Ahmad Rather from Anantnag near Srinagar when he crossed the Line of Control as many youth from Kashmir did in the late 1990s apparently for arms training to become a militant. The two fell in love and got married in PoK on March 25, 2010. “My husband and I decided to come to Kashmir under then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s rehabilitation policy which began in 2010. Mr. Abdullah had promised that we could travel between the two parts [Kashmir and PoK] without any hassles,” Ms. Gillani recalled.No documentsHowever, as most brides who decided to accompany their husbands across the border, she was issued no documents of citizenship nor permanent residency, not even an identity card.Her divorce in November last year has left Ms. Gillani stranded between two countries — unable to either return home or settle in India. “My marriage lasted eight years. I got divorced in November last year after I could not bear a child. Since then, I have been stranded in Kashmir. I am not given clearance by the authorities on this side to travel back to Azad Kashmir [PoK] . The agony of losing both husband and now my original home is unbearable,” Ms. Gillani said.She is not alone. Over 150 brides from PoK moved to Kashmir along with ex-militant husbands after the rollout of the 2010 rehabilitation policy. “Three of these brides committed suicide because of the choking atmosphere here,” Ms. Gillani alleged. The first person to take her own life was Saira Begum, 35, wife of Abdul Majid Lone, in April 10, 2014 at Naidkhai village, around 40 km from Srinagar, in Bandipora.“We are living a miserable life here,” said Ms. Gillani, speaking for the women from across the border.According to a government report, around 212 people returned from PoK through Nepal and other routes between 2010 and 2012, against 219 cases approved after security clearance. “At least, 90 men brought their families along to this side,” the report said. The then government had confirmed receiving 1,082 application from youth, who crossed over into PoK for arms training.Court viewA J&K High Court judgment, issued in 1971 in the Mohsin Shah case, had observed that no deportation exercise could take place for such couples because “one person had merely travelled from one part of India to another”.Ms. Gillani has now appealed to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to put pressure on Indian authorities to clear her travel documents and also those of all other women from PoK living in limbo in the Valley. As of now, she has a Pakistani passport issued for PoK residents but that is not valid in India, as her entry was not apparently registered officially at the time of her arrival. “My father, whose last wish was to see me, died on December 6 last year. God forbid, what if my mother, brother and two sisters too cannot see me again. I am yearning to see my home again. I am without shelter in Kashmir now. I hope PM Khan will live up to his slogan to bring change for people in distress like me,” a desperate Ms Gillani said.last_img

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