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DISPUTED IDENTITY

‘Disputed’ is what I think of when it comes to describing myself in one word. My identity is disputed. The place I live in is a disputed territory. And the future of which I've no idea is also going to remain in the same state. My entire life is disputed. Literally.

While female education remains marred by patriarchy and poverty mostly in almost every part of the world, here you have dispute to blame, again. Though we can do away with patriarchy by advocating and lobbying the masses; as for the underprivileged class, the governments can introduce such schemes which would provide free education up to school level, with scholarships for higher education. This isn't easy, I know. However we can succeed if we do. But what should be done to the disputed territory which observes compete shutdown and curfews with internet services snapped for weeks together after almost every two months or so?

I am a native of the two-third area of the state of Jammu and Kashmir which has been occupied by India. One third remains under the control of Pakistan which comprises of Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas. After the British withdrew its forces from the Indian subcontinent, territorial disputes over Kashmir began to sprout. Eventually UN Security Council established the UN Commission for India and Pakistan which passed a resolution, “the question of the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite.” However the government of India has constantly refused to hold a plebiscite in the state. Hence the conflict.

On top of it all we have AFSPA- Armed Forces Special Powers Act, a law which gives license to kill innocent and suspected persons under the disguise of maintaining law and order and violates provisions of national and international human rights law. Everybody knows that the CRPF is trained to fire the tear gas shell in a parabolic way but in Kashmir they fire on direct bodyline. Even at the end of a peaceful protest, a civilian somewhere falls to their bullets. According to the fourth section of the Act, “Any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or any other person of equivalent rank in the Armed Forces may, in a disturbed area, arrest, without warrant, any person who has committed a cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed or is about to commit a cognizable offence and may use such force as may be necessary to effect the arrest.” The act gives them the license to destroy property without verification. Section 6 of the Act practically eliminates any prosecution of armed forces personnel, "No prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of powers conferred by this Act." And thus, since 1990, not a single army, or paramilitary officer, or soldier has been prosecuted for murder, rape, or destroying property in the state. On the night of February 23, 1991 68th Brigade of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles cordoned off the village of Kunan Poshpora. They made their forced entry into the houses and gang-raped all the women, besides electrocuting their genitals. Some of them were raped twice. No prosecution! Moreover Chattisinghpora, Pathribal, Barakpora, Sopore, Handwara, Gawakadal, Bijbihara, Zakura and Tengpora massacres are a few fake encounters in which scores of Kashmiri civilians were killed and massive property was destroyed. In a signed response to an RTI application filed by co-coordinator of J&K Coalition of Civil Society on the number of prosecutions sanctioned under AFSPA, the J&K Home Department stated, “no sanction for prosecution has been intimated by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defense to the State Government from 1990-2011 under the J&K Armed Forces Special Powers Act.”

By and large the barrier of conflict is stronger. However it isn't impossible to get rid of it. The long pending plebiscite can be held online. In this way we would come to know of the way people think. Together we can bring the change. If not the dispute, at least we can to some extent help resolve the issue into simple elements. We can help advocate people about the ways to deal with difficult times when you are living in a conflict zone. Apparently it would minimize the stress levels and bring some sunshine in our lives.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

libudsuroy's picture

How courageous of you,Taha,

How courageous of you,Taha, to break the silence on your besieged people in a contested area! Indeed, unless there is peace, unless the dispute is resolved and transformed, the people cannot prosper, can't have peace within themselves.
Keep writing to freedom, Taha.

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Taha Mirani's picture

Thank you

Dear Libudsuroy,

Thank you for the feedback. Indeed, there can be no peace unless the dispute is resolved. The only thing we can do is to prepare ourselves to face every situation with courage. Besides, in such areas the dispute has by and large affected the people psychologically. Neurotic disorders are on the rise. People here have no certainty of tomorrow. They live by moments, not days or years unlike others.

Love

Taha Mirani

Ruth Bech's picture

A nightmare

The conditions of your area and home are horrific, living in no-mans land like this. The rapes and the killings are part of the territorial terror coming with being in demand from either nation. The sooner you can hold your votes for citizenship, the better. I have read about your unsolved "border conflict", it is one of the worlds forgotten disputes - unsettles disputes. If all UNSC can do is to put a lid on a hot-boiling conflict and leave the humans there to themselves, then by all standards they are guilty by complicity. The repercussions to social and personal health from living on the edge of sanity that you describe is no novelty, it is well known living under torturous conditions are damaging. Is there anything i can do to help, let me know. If you are on facebook, please add me as your friend: https://www.facebook.com/ruth.bech.5
Much love,
Ruth

Taha Mirani's picture

Thank you

Thank you for having read the post. Kashmir is indeed a forgotten dispute for them. But for those living here, it is a fresh issue every day. We can't forget the brutality, because the GoI doesn't want us to forget. Because our people are killed in the name of conflict. And mostly, because AFSPA is there. We are denied the right to self determination. Dispute is all we feel, AFSPA is all we hear.

Yes, I am. Though it is deactivated at the moment but as soon as I log in, I'll write to you. <3

Love

Taha Mirani

RosemaryC's picture

Sharing your wish for sunshine

Dear Taha Mirani:

I saw a film a while ago about Kashmir, and about how people who lived on either side of a river had been divided and could only talk to one another from either side of the river. I thought how very sad that must be, to not be able to sit together and have tea or to see one another's faces close up.
Such a terrible cost for individual people when conflicts continue on for so many years without resolution. And you sum up the impact so strongly when you say 'my entire life is disputed'.
Your idea of holding a plebiscite online sounds like an innovative idea - is it likely to happen? What would help make it possible?
It must be extremely difficult indeed to focus on education for girls and young women - indeed, education for anyone - when you live in such difficult and frightening circumstances.
I join with your wish that it will be possible for you to have some sunshine in your lives.

Best wishes,
Rosemary

Taha Mirani's picture

Thank you

Dear Rosemary, thank you so much for the feedback.

Well, yes. I've been thinking of the online plebiscite since long. If not the solution, at least we would come to know of the diverse views we hold regarding the dispute. And the possible solutions we think of at the individual level.

For women, pursuing education in such circumstances is difficult indeed. I hope for a better tomorrow.

Thank you so much for the kind words.

Love

Taha Mirani

innerdelight's picture

Hope

Hi Taha,
This is such a great example of letting your voice be heard despite all the disputes and the violence. Are you finding that more women in your community are coming together to find ways to support one another and seek solutions?
I acknowledge your courage! I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to live with this constant threat of being raped or otherwise violated and that the perpetrators get away with it.
How do you see this changing?
And how did you overcome these challenges to pursue education?

I hold the vision for peace to be restored and that your children and their generation will look back at this time and say to themselves: What were they thinking?! Thank goodness that all changed.

joyful blessings,
Tina

Taha Mirani's picture

Thank you

Dear Tina, thank you very much for taking time out to read the post. Yes, women here are coming forward to speak up for all the problems faced by their gender.

I live in constant fear like all the women here. Though I've witnessed a great change over the years but there are times when the whole settings takes a U-turn.

Thank you for being so kind, Tina. I look forward to the day.

Love

Taha Mirani

innerdelight's picture

That day

Dear Taha,

With women like yourself standing up and letting your voices be heard, that day is here in the hearts of many already... slowly but surely rippling out into the world...

Are women finding education opportunities online? Or is this censored?
I am curious to hear more about the options available and how this can reach more women...

Keep on shining your beautiful light!
joyful blessings,
Tina

bhavna's picture

Braveheart!

Dear Taha,
It really amazes me the way all kashmiris keep put in spite of daily hardships, violence and crises. Just hope the conflict ends and life eases a bit for all of you. In solidarity.

Much love
bhavna

Taha Mirani's picture

Thank you

Dear Bhavna,

Thank you so much for the good wishes. God bless you.

Love

Taha Mirani

amymorros's picture

Disputed

Wow. You live with the political decisions that other people have made everyday and in your case it can be a life or death choice. I can't imagine what you must go through and appreciate that you have shared some of it with World Pulse. The day-to-day survival must take up an enormous amount of energy and I admire someone who can keep up their motivation in the midst of all this.

I have heard that Kashmir is (was) a beautiful area and used to host so many tourists.

Best of luck to you.

Amy
@amyinstl

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