Recently when Prime Minister Modi visited Kashmir, scores of women, originally hailing from Pakistani Administered Kashmir (PaK), and other parts of Pakistan, assembled in Srinagar's press enclave urging upon Modi and PM Imran Khan to listen to their woes. These unfortunate women came to this part of Kashmir after their husbands got assurance from J&K Government under its 2010 "Rehabilitation Policy ". The policy was announced by the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in year 2010 after getting a nod from New Delhi. It is said that more than 400 Pakistani women came to Kashmir with their Kashmiri husbands under this policy. The women are living a miserable life as they are neither given citizenship rights nor have they been provided passport or any other documents like Adhar card / election card. Since they came to this part of Kashmir, they haven't visited their loved ones living across the border.
In past I have written on this issue several times. Home Department of J&K vide its order No: Home 1376 (ISA) of 2010 Dated 23.11.2010 gave sanction for the adoption of policy and procedure for the return of ex-Militants to Jammu and Kashmir State, who had crossed over to Pakistan or Pakistani controlled Kashmir from 1989 to 2009. A large number of Kashmiri men started coming back via Nepal under this policy from 2010 onwards. As they had been married across the border they got their wives and children along with them. But when they landed in Kashmir, the security establishment started questioning them. Many of them were even arrested and jailed. Till date there is no clear policy of the Government towards these people. Their wives and children have neither been given citizenship rights nor do they have valid travel documents enabling them to visit their loved ones across the border.
Women who have come from PaK or Pakistan are living a stressful life. Many of them suffer from depression. The reason is they are not able to meet their parents, sisters or brothers. They say as if they are living in a jail. One of the Pakistani women namely Kubra Gillani was married to a Kashmiri man in 2010 in Pakistan. In 2014 her husband decided to come back to Kashmir. Kubra accompanied her husband. The martial relation between Kubra and her husband developed cracks. She was divorced some time back and wants to go back to Pakistan but she is not able to go ? Similarly Asima from Bagh district of PaK came along with her husband Ashraf. Initially she was arrested and jailed. I have been following her case since 2010. Last year I met the couple in Srinagar. They have several police cases registered against them. The charges leveled against both of them are yet to be taken back by the Government. Ashraf a labourer has to spend his hard earned money defending his case and paying fee to his lawyers. Asima wants to meet her parents across LoC, but that seems to be quite impossible. From last almost 9 years she has not seen her father, mother, sister and brothers. Ashraf is also not able to get a passport.
If Government had come out with a rehabilitation policy way back in 2010, the issue of giving citizenship rights to the wives and children of ex Militants should have been discussed while formulating the policy. If Govt was not ready to give these women their due rights, why were they invited to come back with their husbands ? They have come here after leaving all their luxuries of life. Govt must come to their rescue at any cost….
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is Founder & Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement