SRINAGAR: As the world is observing the International Widows Day, today, Kashmiri women continue to suffer at the hands of Indian troops, police and dreaded agencies in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
According to a report released on the occasion of the International Widows Day, today, the unabated Indian state terrorism rendered 22,960 women widowed since January 1989 till date as their husbands were martyred by Indian troops and police personnel in fake encounters and in custody.
It said around 2,500 women have been forced to live as half widows during the past 35 years. The women whose husbands were subjected to custodial disappearance after arrest by Indian army and police are referred to as half widows and several of them died due to mental tension.
According to the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and other human rights groups in IIOJK, around 8,000 civilians have disappeared in the custody of Indian troops and police personnel since 1989, it said. For years, half widows in IIOJK have been running from one Indian army and paramilitary camps to another trying to find the whereabouts of their husbands, it added.
The report maintained that 683 women have been martyred by the troops and paramilitary forces since January 2001 till date. It pointed out that women constitute the majority of the Kashmiris suffering from multiple psychic problems and mental torture. “Due to unending agony, Kashmiri widows and half widows are suffering from psychological and other problems. As per a study, women comprise more than 60 percent of psychiatric patients in IIOJK,” it added.
According to Zoya Mir, a clinical psychologist in Srinagar, physical illness takes priority for many people. Mental illness is not visible in the same way, so it is difficult to understand it. “Stigma is attached to mental illness. Someone visiting a psychiatrist is considered crazy, which is why not many people even speak about it,” Mir said.
The report said the Kashmiri women are targeted for raising their voice against Indian brutalities. Dozens of women, including Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi, Naheeda Nasreen, Zamruda Habib and Yasmeen Raja have been languishing in different jails of India and IIOJK for their true political demand of right to self-determination, it said.
The report underscored that the International Widows Day is a reminder for the world to realize the plight of Kashmiri widows and half-widows
Meanwhile, rights activists, including detained Muhammad Ahsan Untoo and Dr Tahira Mir in their statements said the Kashmiri women are the worst victims of Indian state terrorism in IIOJK.
They said thousands of women have lost their husbands, brothers and sons as they were martyred or subjected to custodial disappearance by Indian troops. Over the past three years, the agony of Kashmiri women has increased manifold as the authorities have not been handing over the bodies of their martyred dear ones to them in the territory.