Women from Kashmir seek Pakistani, Indian govts’ help to return home

MUZAFFARABAD: The mother of a Muzaffarabad-born woman, stranded in India-held Kashmir after dissolution of her marriage, has called upon the governments of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Pakistan to expedite efforts for her early repatriation.

“The so-called government in India-occupied Kashmir had been telling my daughter and other women like her that they will not only be given citizenship there but will also be at liberty to visit their birthplace [AJK] as and when they desired… But nothing of the sort happened over these years. In fact, all of them were cheated to the core,” said Parveen Gillani, mother of 27-year-old Kubra Gillani, while talking to media.

“I call upon the governments in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad to do the needful without more ado so that I can have my daughter back with me,” she said.

Kubra Gillani had tied the knot with Mohammad Altaf Rather, a resident of the Kokernag area of India-held Kashmir, in Muzaffarabad in March 2010 at the age of 19. Mr Rather was among tens of hundreds of young Kashmiris who had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and taken refuge in AJK after 1990.

In 2014, the couple moved to India-held Kashmir via Nepal under the so-called ‘rehabilitation policy’ announced by the then Omar Abdullah’s government in India-held Kashmir for “former fighters and their families”.

However, Mr Rather divorced Kubra on Nov 30 last year, allegedly for her inability to bear children during eight years of their marriage.

Ever since, she has reportedly been working as a housemaid in Srinagar to make her ends meet.

Her plight came to the fore late last month after she uploaded a video message on social media wherein she alleged that neither did the authorities in India-held Kashmir issue her a permanent residence certificate nor did they allow her to return to Pakistan to reunite with her family.

According to reports reaching here from across the LoC, Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi had issued her a fresh passport, as her previous passport had expired in August 2018, but when she reached the Wagah international border for the crossing, she was sent back by the Indian authorities allegedly for “insufficient documentation”.

In the same video message, Kubra Gillani revealed that there were more than 200 other women from AJK facing a similar situation like that of hers and that the government of Pakistan should initiate urgent measures for their repatriation.

On Saturday, a group of such women, Kubra Gillani among them, staged a demonstration at Residency Road Srinagar to make an appeal to Indian and Pakistani prime ministers to facilitate their return to Pakistan on “humanitarian grounds”.