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Women rights defenders demand demilitarization of JK

31 October, 2012

SRINAGAR: The women rights defenders from India Tuesday demanded demilitarization in Jammu and Kashmir, scrapping of black laws including AFSPA and PSA and trial of security men involved in rape, molestation of women and other HR abuses.

"We demand demilitarization in J&K, withdrawal of AFSPA, PSA and other draconian laws imposed in Kashmir,” read a joint resolution passed during the "Convention on peace and Justice for Kashmiri Women” held at Gandhi Bhavan, Kashmir University, here.

The convention, organized by Centre for Policy Analysis (CPA), witnessed large participation of known women rights defenders from India and Kashmir. The columnists, academicians, intellectuals and large number of students participated in the function.

The convention called for immediate trial and punishment of troopers involved in rape and molestation and other HR abuses. It also sought rehabilitation of widows and half widows and compilation of record of missing persons and time bound implementation of recommendations. "The special fast track courts should be set up to try rape cases and bring justice to the victims”.

The women activists also demanded setting up of hospitals for women to treat physical and mental disease in Srinagar and other towns of Jammu and Kashmir.

"The government should announce employment schemes and opportunities for widows and half widows of Kashmir. The migrant Kashmiri Pandits should be re-settled and rehabilitated,” it demanded.

The convention further resolved that Government of India and Jammu and Kashmir government should take serious note of these demands and take steps for their implementation.

While speaking in the convention, Prof Nayeema Hameed expressed solidarity with the Kashmiri women and said the Kashmir conflict must be seen in a context.

"All violations in Kashmir have been legitimized by the State through special legislations, which provide impunity to troops to commit rapes, extrajudicial killings and other forms of human rights violations. It became an illegitimate medium for the military for domestic repression,” she said.

She said as a result of this civil-military framework, there are 30,000 orphans and equal number of widows in Kashmir while 35000 habeas corpus petitions were pending in the courts.

"The draconian legislations have institutionalized impunity and judges are even scared to dispose of these cases. The rape has been used as a war weapon. The civil society of Indian should make people aware about the crimes being committed against Kashmir and thus counter the political rhetoric,” added Nayeema.

Director CPA Seema Mustafa said Kashmiris don't have freedom of expression. "Activities on Facebook and other social networks are being monitored. Youth have been arrested on flimsy grounds to control the dissent,” she said.

She said Kashmiris should build bridges with activists of other parts of India to make their voices heard in bigger platforms.

The former President of Federation of Commerce Industries Kashmir (FCIK) Shakeel Qalandar said the Kashmiris were deliberately made a dependent community.

"In 1947, Kashmir was a self reliant and exports were thrice the import. However, now Kashmir imported products worth Rs 40,000 crore while exports were just 7000 crores. This dependence has been created deliberately created,” he said.

President, Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JKJCCI), Mubin Shah while referring to actor Farooq Sheikh present in the convention said Bollywood can play an important role by changing the attitude of masses and civil society towards Kashmir issue. "Hollywood has played a very significant role in bringing the change in South African conflict and Bollywood should follow the suit here”.

"War crimes have been committed in Kashmir. India should have to answer those crimes,” he said.

Faculty member Media Education Research Centre, University of Kashmir, Syeda Afshana said there was need of introspection within the Kashmiri community.

She said there was confusion over the figures of enforced disappearance and mass graves within different agencies. "There is possibility that the boys who were subjected to enforced disappearance might be buried in the mass graves,” she said adding the civil society should demand a visit by United Nations team so that it can document the issues as has recently happened in Balochistan, Pakistan.

"People should not show stubbornness to the idea of Truth and Reconciliation Commission floated by the government. It should be impressed upon the government to convert infamous jails and official interrogation centers into 'memorials',” she added.

Prof Gul Wani, a political scientist said the violence against women in Kashmir should be seen in a larger framework. "The women should come together to press for general political rights.”

The psychiatrist Dr Arshid said the psychiatric disorders in Kashmir were on the rise. "In 1989, only 1600 patients visited psychiatric hospital but the figure rose to 60,000 in 1995. In 2011, about 1.5 lakh patients visited the hospital to get treatment for psychiatric disorders”

Subashini Ali, a noted women rights activist, said it was the duty of the State to prosecute troopers, who commit violence against women.

"The Kashmiri women should ally with other institutions that would ensure justice to them,” she said adding she does not feel there exists a barrier between human rights and women rights in religion and region.

She also stressed on the need for rehabilitation of migrant KPs.

Jyotsana Chatterji, a women rights defender, said there was no strategy to address problems being faced by the Kashmiri women.

She said the women from different parts of India have participated in the convention to build bridges and find partners in struggle against violence against women in Kashmir.

Bhartiya Muslim Andolan representative Zakiya said the experiences narrated by the Kashmiri participants was shocking and agitating for her. "People in Kashmir were filled with anger. The problems of the women in the region need to be addressed”.

Another women rights defender Sehba Farooqui said the violence against women in Kashmir was a slap against the democracy. "The troopers should be questioned for committing crimes against the women”.

She said Kashmiri women along with the affected should come to Delhi and stage a dharna to press for the justice.

Annie Raja, Promila Lumba, Kalpana David and many prominent Kashmiri women also spoke on the occasion and shared their views.

End.

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