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When the beast prowl

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Kashmir the paradise on earth! The land which attracted and impressed people to such an extent that someone once said, "if there is paradise on earth, its here, its here, its here." However, the eighteen years old conflict has pushed Kashmir into the darkness of suppression and human tragedy. The continuous violence and subjugation has ended the calm of people.
These cataclysmic changes have compelled many people to survive on the terms and condition of dominant forces.
Here everyone has his own tragic story to narrate. Some people cry, some carp while others bear the agony in silence and solitude.
Recently I met one such bruised soul Abida, 28, resident of Baramulla. When Abida was seventeen, she was compelled to take a consequential decision of her life and that left her crippled for ever.
It all started when Sajjad Abida’s brother joined a militant outfit in early 90’s. He was overwhelmed with the zeal and enthusiasm for doing something for Kashmir and soon he became a part of a leading militant outfit. Though his parents and sister never wanted him to be a militant but Sajjad clearly told to his parents that he knew what he was doing and nothing can stop him.
As it happens in insurgencies, the counter insurgents always lay traps for such individuals and one such trap was laid against Sajjad and his family. Sajjad fell into a police dragnet. He was definitely a big catch but was not immediately caught because there was a reason and the reason was Sajjad's sister Abida.
As a part of the routine counter insurgency operation the army and police made it a point to visit the house of those who were involved in under-ground activities and hence Sajjad's house was always a target.
Exploiting the fear of Sajjad's family the police top gun (whose name Abida does not want to disclose as she fears for her parents now) made a ‘deal’ with his family. The officer offered not to kill or arrest Sajjad for which he wanted family to please him by offering Abida to live with him for one year.
It was a painful decision (words actually fall short) for Abida, as she was then dreaming of a prosperous and dignified life. Propitiating her chastity, on the alter of fear was the worst thing that could happen to her. Her brother was her life and how could she let him slip into the hands of death. So she decided to ‘trade’ herself off for her brother and stayed with the police official for one full year.
Sajjad was still under the watchful eyes of police officials. He never came to know about the ‘deal’ being made between his sister and the police officer - the ultimate sacrifice that his sister made for his freedom.
For a year police officer kept mutilating the innocence of the girl and she, with no other alternative, went through the torture. Every night she went through a physical and psychological trauma. This type of torture did not end fast and for Abida each day was like a never-ending pain. But finally when the ordeal did come to an end she was set free and allowed to go. May be they no longer needed her.
But Abida was not the same as she used to be. She had been mauled by the beasts. But somewhere deep in her heart there was a feeling that her sacrifice could save the life of her brother.
When she reached home, her brother Sajjad was puzzled to see her. He wanted to know where she was all the year. No doubt it was hard to tell him about this painful reality but Abida did it. She explained him what the year had been to her.
Sajjad stood paralyzed after hearing her sister. He did not know what had hit him. He never expected that any sister in this world would under go such horrible thing, just to save the life of her brother.
Two days later when Sajjad left home for some work, while walking through a narrow lane of his locality, some unidentified gun man came and shot him in the middle of his skull from his back. The game of his life was all over in a minute.
Soon the news spread that Sajjad has been shot dead. Abida first could not believe it. When she ran towards the spot, she saw her brother lying in a pool of frozen blood. Her entire world collapsed. It was a frightening end of the game that destiny had played. The memories of the terrible and the horrifying year came rushing to haunt her. That moment Abidaa lost all - her brother, her sacrifice and her honour…

Comments

Fatima Sultan Syed's picture

Harrowing Tale

Dear Shazia
It is such a harrowing life story. I wanted to know if by crippled, you mean that Abida cannot walk now or is it metaphorical?
Yes, there is so much suffering attached to a woman's body which in times such as these gets multiplied and does not stop. Abida is not a unique example - but what is new today is your voice out here - not in the wilderness anymore but a place where we can all give a shout out to other women, tell them of this war which is being fought silently over the land and across our bodies....pushed on the backburner, muddled in sleazy politics of India and Pakistan.
We need more voices..we need more dailogue..we need an open communication with women's agencies out here that can help us yield tangible results for Kashmir conflict.
I am entreating you to keep on talking and sharing and asking others to join the dailogue. Its not without reason - I am hoping and praying that these virtual bonds will lead to physically tangible network in the near future.
Look forward to talking to you.
In solidarity, peace and sisterhood
Fatima

Shazia Khan's picture

Thanks for your suggestion

Thanks for your suggestion and comment.

By crippled i didn't say she is not able to walk or do work. It has become a trauma for her now. Memories of her past often disturb her. She is not able to judge whether that was a right step or wrong.

Regards

Shazia

liba's picture

What a life changing experience

Hello Shazia

Am touched by the experience. I agree with you fully that her identity, dignity and honour were all destroyed by the experience leaving her a crippled soul. The most painful part also is that in addition the brother she sacrificed so much for was cold bloodedly killed in the end. We pray that one day our combined voices will bring healing and peace to such parts of the world hence the need to keep talking.

Liba

"Its not by might nor by power, but by my spitrit , says the Lord"

Shazia Khan's picture

Ameen!

Thanks for listening me and sharing our grief.

Shazia

ShukThi's picture

This makes me so angry!

Thank you for sharing this story. I recently had a conversation with my doctor who is from a region in South Asia that has ethnic violence (not Kashmir). I was shocked to hear her defend her government's violence and characterize everyone from the other ethnic group as terrorists.

Have we not seen that it doesn't matter who has the guns? Violence against women has always been the consequence. Those with power abuse it. What does it matter if they are 'insurgents' or 'counter-insurgents'? It makes me so angry when people believe that the violence used by a government's army is somehow legitimate.

I know we are very far from implementing such things properly, but does anyone know if there is any form of oversight towards the Indian or Pakistani armies? Some anonymous complaint process, at least? Or maybe there is some NGO gathering evidence of various reports like this?

soumya

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