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Life in Undeclared curfew

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As life in Srinagar interiors was put under a siege by an undeclared curfew, people were left wanting for basic amenities. let me narrate that..

Most of the old city bore the brunt of undeclared curfew imposed after killing of teenager Wamiq Farooq. Although the administration declared imposition of Sec 144, at many places it meant no permission to open windows or doors. People were sequestered in their homes.

An elderly woman in Rajouri Kadal looking to buy a painkiller was stopped and asked to return. “It is better to die than facing such humiliation,” she bemoaned.

Fareeda, 40, a widow living in old city is the lone breadwinner of her family which include her three daughters. Working as maid on daily-wage basis in Rajbagh, Fareeda couldn’t make it to her work. Standing outside her mud house in the congested lanes of Gaad Kocha Khankah-e-Moula, Fareeda, is worried about feeding her family.
A man pleads policemen to allow him to visit hospital during an undeclared curfew in Srinagar.

“On one side they (security agencies) frantically target our innocent young sons and on another hand they snatch our livelihood from us,” she mutters.

Referring to the CRPF men, deployed along the Mohalla, she says: “yeman zaaliman chu ni aar ti yewan sanean shurayn paeth (they don’t even feel pity on my kids)”

In another small modest mud house in Rajouri Kadal, where police and CRPF faced stiff resistance from stone pelting youth, Ghulam Rasool Khan is caught in the jigsaw of his life. Coming to terms with life is difficult. His son was paralysed by two bullets years back, but as the lone breadwinner of the family now, he has to think of feeding his family first - bed-ridden paralyzed son, wife and a daughter.

“The undeclared curfew is driving us to starvation. We have nothing to eat except dry rice and a curry of spices. For the whole day I keep switching news channels just to hear any news about relaxation but nothing happens. We need to purchase essential goods for my daughter and his newly born son,” rues Khan, an auto-rickshaw driver.

His daughter Nusrat needs a check up in hospital as her surgical stitches have contacted infection. “I am in distress. We need to go to hospital but the police outside our home are not allowing us,” said Nusrat, her voice choked with pain.

Nusrat was not getting proper diet because of the restrictions and is unable to properly feed her two month baby. “I can’t see my son crying through all day. To quell his hunger I provide him with few spoons of warm water as we are not allowed even to purchase milk,” she says.

Many patients like Nusrat in different localities faced similar situations during the curfew.

People are missing from the dusty, narrow, deserted lanes and rundown areas, where curfew seems to be a hazy and meaningless law and order. Sensitive points of the city roads are flooded with paramilitary vehicles.

People in several areas of old city were stopped from offering Friday prayers. Friday prayers could not be offered at the historic Jamia Masjid either.

“We suffer for the sins that we have not committed .What is more unfortunate and inhuman that we were not allowed to venture out of our homes to offer prayers not even on Friday,” lamented Haji Abdul Waheed, a resident of old city. “The cops threatened us of dire consequences in case we tried to move out of our homes.”

Khalid Gul, 10, a resident of Zaina Kadal is peeping through a windowpane to the street moistened by a drizzly afternoon as the sun plays hide and seek. He is scary to have an open view from the window. “Police beat me ruthlessly in last year’s Amarnath land row. I was going to attend my tuitions and had done nothing wrong,” he says.

Khalid’s parents say that they are sceptical to allow their child for tuitions. They don’t even allow his friends to visit their home fearing police thrashing.

“Entire Kashmir is a jail. Police have license to kill. I can afford to keep him illiterate but I can’t lose my only son,” says Hameeda.
“khuda thavin saerin masoom bachan majoood, amis saan (May Allah bless every child along with mine),” she prays.

At some places neighbours helped each other out. “We gave some potatoes and onion to our neighbours. They had nothing to cook.” said Rehati, a resident of Saraf Kadal in old locality.

Devotees of Sufi Saint Sultan-Ul-Arifeen Hazrat Makhdoom Saheb, popularly known as Makhdoom Saheb had to face lot of problems too as most of them could not make it to the annual Urs at the shrine.

“This curfew restricted us from participating in the two weeks of devotional services in shrine. Albeit, all pilgrims from all parts of the valley flock the shrine for prayers and blessings but no devotee was allowed to visit the place,” says Gulzar Ahmed Draboo.
The entire area witnessed a deserted look as both the residents and people from adjacent areas were not allowed to attend nightlong prayers.

“This Urs is mostly attended by thousands of devotees and religious scholars, who shed light on the life and the spiritual stature of the saint. The entire area is abuzz on this religious festival. But, this curfew snatched even our religious freedom,” Draboo adds amid sobs.

Comments

JaniceW's picture

Heart-wrenching

Aliya,
Thank you for shedding light on the challenges of living in Srinagar. It breaks my heart that children such as Khalid Gul know of no other existence than violence, fear and imprisonment. When I think about children in other regions who freely run out to play on the street with their friends, filling the alleyways and yards with laughter, and then think about Khalid, I wonder about the future of Kashmir where the children are growing up ill-prepared to live in peace. What sort of childhood do they have when their companions are anxiety, despair, distress and suspicion? My heart goes out to the people of Srinagar and I pray that peace will come soon.

fatma's picture

what a way to live!!!!

dear aliya;
this is such an inhumane situation which is incompatible with life....
my heart goes out to all of these people living a meaningless life..prisoners in thier own houses...unable to work ...study...get medical aid...or even breath the outside air.....!
thank you for bringing to light this tragedy...>>>where are the human rights organizations....red crescent...interantional and local NGO'S??and what is the governmental compensation to this agony????what are they doing in return???>>>are they working on peace treaties???
are they at least sending teams around to distribute food potions or provide medical aid????
we pray sincerely for god to end this despair and for peace to arrive and make a difference!!
regards
shiraz

Aliya Bashir's picture

Bride's Brutal Departure

Police has rounded up six suspects to unravel the mystery around the death of a postgraduate girl student who’s body was fished out of Jhelum this week, nine days after she went missing. Aliya Bashir reports.
One June 11, when Afroza’s parents called her for dinner there was no response. Within moments they found out that Afroza was not home. The 26-year-old had left home after receiving a call from one Mohammad Ayoub Wagay, 22, in the evening, Afroza’s younger sister, Khalida told her family.
A second semester student of MA Islamic studies at the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Afroza was a resident of Maloora, Shalteng.
At around 8:55 pm, Afroza had attended Wagays’ call. Wagay was a friend of Afroza’s former fiancé Rafiq Ahmad Bhat and thus known to her too. Wagay and Bhat were residents of nearby localities in Maloora.
“Come outside and I’ll accompany you to Rafiq’s home. He has agreed to give his signatures on notary papers. Wagay had told her,” Afroza’s family said.
Before, Afroza left, she called her new fiancé, Mohammad Altaf Bhat and told her about Wagay’s call. Bilal , Afroza’s brother, says Altaf told her to take some one along, or to ask Wagay to come somewhere nearer to her home. Afroza left home to meet Ayoub, intending to return quickly, and informing only her younger sister.
Later at dinner time, when the family found Afroza missing they tried to call on her cellphone.
“We thought Afroza is studying in her room. When we came to know that she had left, we immediately called on her phone which was switched off,” Bilal said.
At around 11.30pm the family went to Ayoub’s home to look for Afroza.
“We found Ayoub at his house talking to someone on phone, and his friend, Abdul Rehman Sofi watching TV. We enquired about Afrooza he told us that he had called her but then Afrooza had called him back telling him that she cannot come because of a headache,” her family members said.
Nexy day (June 12) at 11: 30 am, the family filed a missing report with the Police Station, Sumbal. “On June 14, police confirmed the call records from Chandigarh and the last call attended was found to be from Ayoub’s number. Following an FIR, Ayoub was arrested on June 13 and other suspects on June 14 and 15.
Her body was fished out from Jhelum at Shilwat on 20 June at 5: 40 pm. Her family says her left leg was broken, and the body had injury marks on the neck, while a toe nail was broken.
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sumbal, Muhammad Tahir Saleem said they have arrested six suspects in the case. “It would be premature to comment on the cause of death. But, as soon as we’ll receive the autopsy reports which normally takes 10 days, whosoever found guilty will be booked under law,” he said.
The arrested suspects are Mohammad Ayoub Wagay son of Abdul Ahad Wagay of Maloora, his two friends Farooq Ahmed Bhat son of Mohammad Sultan Bhat of Shalteng and Abdul Rehman Sofi son of Bashir Ahmed Sofi of Maloora, Roheet and Imran, brothers of Rafiq Ahmed Bhat and their mother, Nazeera.
Reportedly, the families of Ayoub and Rafiq have fled their homes.
Afroza had a romantic affair with Rafiq since 2001 and after years of persistence (in motivating families) the two were engaged in 2006. But a tragedy struck their lives in 2007, when a road accident left Rafiq Paralysed. He could barely move his limbs, and was confined to a wheelchair.
“Afroza was emotionally drained. She was depressed. Rafiq insisted that now that he was dependent on others he could not take care of her. After a lot of persuasion from both her family and Rafiq, Afroza was motivated and ended the relationship,” Bilal said.
On 15 April, 2010 Afroza tried to start a new chapter in her life as she was engaged to Mohammad Altaf, also from Maloora.
Four days after the engagement (April 19) the family found copies of court marriage documents (notary) of Afroza and Rafiq at their door and some posters at the outside wall. According to the papers Rafiq and Afroza had married in court in 2004 (two years before they were engaged formally with the consent of families).
“This was a jolt for her. She was very sensitive. Due to the incident she was feeling very low and humiliated. Though her fiancé Altaf was very co-operative with her on this issue, but, still she was feeling guilty,” Bilal said.
To resolve the crisis, Afroza’s family and relatives consulted village elders and a lawyer and decided to meet Rafiq and get his signatures on divorce papers.
“When we went to meet Rafiq, his mother, Nazeera demanded one lakh rupees for Rafiq’s signatures on divorce papers. Although, Rafiq was ready to sign but his mother did not allow him to,” Bilal said.
Nazeera had even admitted before police that she demanded money from Afroza’s family.
After long discussions among relatives of both families with village elders, Bilal says, the family was asked to wait till Rafiq’s surgery on June 15. They had consented to ensure Rafiq’s signatures after his surgery, though without Nazeera’s knowledge, says Bilal.
But fate had something else in store for her.

AB

jadefrank's picture

Re-posted story

Dear Aliya,

Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story. I have re-posted it as a new journal, as more people can read your words. It appears in Voices Rising and your journal: http://www.worldpulse.com/node/22310

I hope you don't mind.

In friendship,
Jade

JaniceW's picture

Devastating

Aliya,
I am without words over Afroza's tragic death. Please continue writing about your community and raising awareness of the challenges women face in Kashmir.
Janice

Aliya Bashir's picture

Janice things are more worst

Janice things are more worst than this......fortunately this case was exposed,otherwise there are lot more horrifc than this,which are beyond's one reach...due to da family's unwillingness and others factors, especially in a highly conflict ridden society.

AB

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