To celebrate the 70th Human Rights Day on December 10, 2018, the United Nations came out with #StandUp4HumanRights theme. But in Kashmir, it was yet another day of grieving, as women mourners were crying their hearts out over the passage of the minor militants of Hajin and braving biting cold in Srinagar to seek the whereabouts of their disappeared sons. Here, a photojournalist from Srinagar details the suffering of Kashmiri women in different frames.
For the day, when Human Rights Day was trending worldwide with hashtag #StandUp4HumanRights, many agonised parents were silently walking inside Srinagar’s Press Enclave to register their customary monthly sit-in—observed on every 10th of the month, to demand the whereabouts of their sons subjected to enforced disappearance in the valley since 1990.
Years of wailing, lamenting and suffering had reduced them to some feeble and forsaken lot, who now mainly speak through their silence.
Srinagar, their host for the day, was under the spell of biting cold. Yet these parents—withering in the larger indifference—were holding posters, seeking whereabouts of their sons.
Among them were the wrinkled and aged mothers, sitting glum and lost in their own thoughts. They didn’t show any signs of eagerness in front of cameras, like they used to do when their sons were first subjected to enforced disappearance.
Years of tormenting struggle — taking them to different dungeons, torture chambers and some notorious prisons across India — had apparently made them paranoid about many things.
But amid the pervasive hopelessness, they did show some hope, drawing them out—at least, once in a month, to remember their beloved ones.
“How sad and tragic,” a passerby remarked, as he walked up to the silent gathering. “These unfortunate lots think that someone in power corridors or those human rights champions gracing ivory towers around the world, like UN might give them some clue of their loved sons. What a transfixed state of mind they’ve been pushed to, by this horrific turmoil!”
But more than beckoning the so-called power corridors or rights champions in ivory towers, a scribe said, they are out there to crystallise the memory of their loved ones.
“And that’s more important for them now—when even memory is under attack,” the scribe made it precise.
After some time, many of those battered mothers began taking heavy steps to their homes, where they keep fighting the memories of their disappeared sons.
Every year December 10 is celebrated as the day to raise awareness and infuse the importance of human rights in the minds of the people. On this day, 70 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, which declared inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being.
But women in Kashmir are constantly facing rights violations, which hardly become a rallying point in the world.
Living in one of the ugliest conflict zones in south Asia—tagged as the largest militarized zone of the world for housing around 700,000 Indian troops—had/has their own problems to offer for Kashmiri women.
It has not only adversely affected them socially, physically and economically, but also distressed them psychologically.
The ratio of mental malady in women shows higher levels of despair as compared to men in the Valley. They’ve been made victims in all possible ways—widowed, tortured, raped, blinded and jailed.
Despite being resilient, many of them have witnessed the killings of their beloved ones, along with being witnesses to razing down of their houses in the continuing conflict.
All this makes Kashmir women as the worst sufferers of the protracted political conflict.
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