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Reports

22,976 women widowed by Indian troops in IIOJK since 1989

#Plight_Of_Widows_In_IIOJK

Islamabad: As the world is observing the International Widows Day, today, Kashmiri women continue to suffer at the hands of Indian troops, paramilitary, police and dreaded agencies in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

According to a report released by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service on the occasion of the International Widows Day, today, the unabated Indian state terrorism rendered 22,976 women widowed since January 1989 till date as their husbands were martyred by Indian troops and police personnel in fake encounters and in custody.

It said around 2,500 women have been forced to live as half widows during the past 36 years. The women whose husbands were subjected to custodial disappearance after arrest by Indian army and police are referred to as half widows and several of them died due to mental tension.

According to the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and other human rights groups in IIOJK, around 8,000 civilians have disappeared in the custody of Indian troops and police personnel since 1989, it said. For years, half widows in IIOJK have been running from one Indian army and paramilitary camps to another trying to find the whereabouts of their husbands, it added.

The report maintained that 684 women have been martyred by the troops and paramilitary forces since January 2001 till date. It pointed out that women constitute the majority of the Kashmiris suffering from multiple psychic problems and mental torture. “Due to unending agony, Kashmiri widows and half widows are suffering from psychological and other problems. As per a study, women comprise more than 60 percent of psychiatric patients in IIOJK,” it added.

According to Zoya Mir, a clinical psychologist in Srinagar, physical illness takes priority for many people. Mental illness is not visible in the same way, so it is difficult to understand it. “Stigma is attached to mental illness. Someone visiting a psychiatrist is considered crazy, which is why not many people even speak about it,” Mir said.

Health experts say that the continued presence of extra troops on the streets of the world’s most militarized zone and mass arrests of civilians have led to an increase in trauma and anxiety, particularly among women and children.

“Imagine the family of a person whose loved one has either been killed or [detained], or the families whose houses get damaged or entirely burnt down during the militant-military encounters,” said Dr Junaid Nabi, a psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (IMHAMS) in Kashmir. “Since women often find themselves the sole manager of the household, sole parent, or caretaker of elders in Kashmir, they suffer more.”

The report said the Kashmiri women are targeted for raising their voice against Indian brutalities. Dozens of women, including aged Hurriyet women leader, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi, Naheeda Nasreen, Shabroza Bano, Aafreena Ganie, Munira Begum, Safeeqa Begum, Ishrat Rasool, have been languishing in different jails of India and IIOJK for their true political demand of right to self-determination, it said.

The report underscored that the International Widows Day is a reminder for the world to realize the plight of Kashmiri widows and half-widows

Meanwhile, civil society representatives, including Dr Zubair Ahmed, Muhammad Furhan, Muhammad Iqbal Shaheen, Syed Haider Hussain and Institute and Documentation Centre (IDC) Prof Farhan Ali in their statements said the Kashmiri women are the worst victims of Indian state terrorism in IIOJK. They said thousands of women have lost their husbands, brothers and sons as they were martyred or subjected to custodial disappearance by Indian troops. After 2019, the agony of Kashmiri women has increased manifold as the authorities’ brutal acts and have not been handing over the bodies of their martyred dear ones to them in the territory.

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