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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Enticed with rehab policy, treatment of Pakistan-Kashmir women exposes India’s anti-Muslim plot

After some of them were denied the rights to contest District Development Council elections in Indian-administered Kashmir, women from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, who settled in various parts of the valley under New Delhi’s scheme for rehabilitation for former pro-freedom insurgents, on Monday sought their deportation to the country of origin. 

The women told the press in summer capital Srinagar that the Pakistan embassy has been writing to the foreign Minister almost every month, seeking permission to the women to visit their homes. “We want the government of India to allow us to return home to meet our dear ones, Bushra, who returned along with her husband under the rehabilitation policy, said.

In 2010, her family returned to the valley after the Omar Abdullah government announced amnesty for Kashmiri youths who had crossed over to Pakistan for arms training, and who wanted to surrender and return.

She said: “Kashmir is not a safer place for them.”

“The government has rejected us as citizens and it makes no sense for the authorities to stop us from deporting back to our residential places,” the group of women who held a press conference said.

Recently two among these women had contested the district council election but the Indian administration had stopped counting in the two segments, citing complaints against their nomination. 

Somiya Sadaf, who also came to Kashmir under the much touted rehabilitation policy, spent days campaigning in her Drugmulla constituency in Kupwara, trying to convince people to vote for her. She was the first woman from Pakistan-administered Kashmir to contest the polls.

But counting on her seat was stopped on the orders of Indian election commission which claimed Sadaf had furnished wrong information in her affidavit. 

“…The State Election Commissioner has directed to defer counting of votes in Drugmulla till further orders in this regard. Ballot boxes and related election material shall be stored in a strong room…” stated the letter, signed by Secretary, State Election Commission.

A baffled Sadaf who has spent working for the rural poor under an Indian scheme, had wondered why objections were not raised when she filed the nomination papers. “Suddenly, when I was sure to win this seat, they didn’t allow counting of votes,” she had said. 

A woman from Pakistani-administered Kashmir winning an election in Indian-administered Kashmir would have created a huge dent in the image of right wing Hindu parties including that of Narendra Modi’s BJP. 

These women on Monday told the press: “We have knocked almost all the doors but don’t know why our voices go unheard. When a Pak origin Kashmiri bride Sadaf contested the elections recently, she was allowed to do so. But, soon when we raised our voices then the government stopped counting on the particular seat where from she was contesting. It seems the government was in deep slumber when many Pak origin women were elected as Sarpanchs and Panchs.” 

“We want justice and want India to deport us to Pak as we are not being considered as the citizens here,” Bushra said.

Many of militants had married and settled in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, but given the option to surrender and return home, they had arrived complete with their families.

Sadaf is a poster woman for Pakistan-Kashmiri brides who returned to Kashmir with their families under the rehabilitation policy but are living a miserable life – unlike her counterparts, Sadaf has a passport, she is part Umeed, the government‘s self-help initiative for women, has interacted with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and runs a knitting centre and a dairy farm.

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