Winning freedom at last

Braving many ordeals Asima is finally back to her family



On October 30th last year my article titled “Asima’s Plight” was published in Greater Kashmir. I actually wrote this piece to highlight the pain and misery of a poor girl namely Asima who belongs to  Bagh district of other part of Kashmir; this girl  had to spent more than two and a half years in Poonch jail after she infiltrated into this part of Kashmir along with her husband who hails from Branwar village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. Asima won her legal battle in the court of law and finally she was released by the authorities from the Poonch jail recently and few weeks back she came to her husband’s village at Branwar, Budgam. I met Asima at her husband’s house and I could see her joy had no bounds after she got reunited with her husband’s family which she thought would never happen.    
Asima Akhtar Lone originally hails from Bagh district of Pakistani Administered Kashmir (PaK), belongs to a Kashmiri Lone family that had migrated to PaK in late 1940s. She was married to Mohammad Ashraf Jahara, a young boy from Branwar village in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district in Jan 2010.  Ashraf had crossed over to LoC during Autumn of 1999 at a tender age of 13 years to get arms training. Being too young to undergo arms training Ashraf went to school in PaK for few years and after that he started working as a salesman at a grocery shop there.
Asima was married to Ashraf in Jan 2010 and after the marriage Asima and Ashraf started living in a rented house in the same area. On 10th May 2010 Ashraf and Asima crossed over to this side via Saujian sector of Poonch district and both were arrested by the Army who handed them over to the local Police.
“We thought that Police will let us go within a few days as we had been hearing that J&K Government has adopted some policy for people like me”, said Ashraf. But the couple landed in Poonch jail and Ashraf remained there till December 2011, more than one and a half years. He was severely interrogated and physically tortured at JIC Jammu by Intelligence officials.
On the other hand Asima was not released by the authorities who were trying to push her back into Pakistani side of the LoC and when Ashraf reached his village he was taken into custody by the Chadoora police on the fictitious charges of two murder cases which had been committed in the years 2001 and 2002 respectively and that time Ashraf was in PaK, and on these charges Ashraf was sent to Judicial custody at  Srinagar’s Central Jail.
Ashraf remained in custody at Srinagar Central jail for another seven months and was bailed out after seven months in August 2012 but soon after being released he was re-arrested by the sleuths of CIK but was released after a week’s time.
Asima’s detention issue was raised by MLC Murtaza Khan in the Legislative Council last summer,  by President of Peoples Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti, and International Human Rights Watch dog The Amnesty International  also highlighted this issue with the authorities. The judiciary came to her rescue as well. Finally Asima won her battle and got released recently. She paid her gratitude to the Government especially SSP Poonch, Opposition PDP, Amnesty International for paying a way towards her release.
   Asima and Ashraf have appealed J&K Government, Politicians, Human Rights defenders and Civil Society actors to help in creating an atmosphere so that other people also return back to their  native places in J&K. “The rehabilitation policy must be implemented in letter and spirit and people who want to come back, or who have already came back, should not be harassed or interrogated  by the security agencies”, they said while talking to me.
Asima seems to be happy now but the question is that whether she would be able to meet her parents who live across Loc in Bagh district? But that is not possible as she and her husband, Ashraf, would again have to undergo a long procedure to get the travelling permit via Uri-Muzaffarabad or Poonch-Rawlakot road as the couple have several cases registered against them. Even Asima’s parents won’t be able to meet with their daughter in this part of Kashmir. The need of the hour is to make this cross LoC travel easy wherein anyone could travel through this route as we travel between Srinagar and Jammu

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Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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