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World community must pay heed to plight of Kashmiri women: Masood

MUZAFFARABAD, June 24: The AJK President Sardar Masood Khan has said the Indian occupation forces have made 12, 000 women widows by killing their husbands; and more than 11,000 women of all ages have been raped by the occupation forces, as an act of vengeance, to terrorise the entire Kashmiri population.

He was speaking as chief guest at a webinar organised by Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK in connection with International Widows Day. He said that the wounds of the thousands of half widows, half wives as they are called, are even deeper. These are the women whose husbands were forcibly disappeared without a trace and have not yet been declared dead or alive.

“The lives of these women are in limbo. As victims of Indian atrocities, they live in constant agony. These are egregious and unacceptable crimes against humanity according to international law”, he emphasised.

He said that the only hope they (Kashmiri half widows) have is that their husbands may probably be buried in more than 6,000 mass graves uncovered by Kashmiris in remote areas. Forensics of these dead bodies have not been conducted to identify the murderers.

The state President said that Kashmiri half widows live in penury facing legal, social, and economic problems. Their trauma is unending as they are stigmatised, they can’t remarry and their children do not know where their fathers are. They all have “fractured identities”.

I thank Mr. Fahim Kiyani, Chairman of the Tehrik-i-Kashmir United Kingdom, for organising this webinar on the half widows of the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. We salute him for his campaign for freedom of Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian occupation. We are also grateful to the British parliamentarians for consistently raising their voice for the rights of Kashmiri women.

The idyllic valleys and mountains of the occupied territory wail for these forgotten women and their missing men. Their stories have been written, picturised,   broadcast but they get no relief. The portrayal of their pain and plight, however evocative, does not give these half widows any solace, President Khan added.

The President urged the participants to highlight their deep injury and to seek justice for them. Speaking on the occasion President Tehreek-e-Kashmir Raja Faheem Kiani said under the imperial and colonial designs, India uses different tactics in illegally occupied Kashmir to make Kashmiris bow down before its military might and enforced disappearances one such tactic being used and practice by India.

Mr Kiani said that when India launched an all-out war against Kashmiris in early 1990, its occupying forces picked nearly 8000 to 10,000 innocent, civilian, unarmed Kashmiris. They were abducted from their homes and yet their families do not know about their whereabouts.

Later in 2008-09, a human rights group found close to 7,000 unmarked, mass graves in several districts of Indian-occupied Kashmir. It is believed these forcibly disappeared Kashmiris were killed by Indian thugs wearing Indian army uniform and later buried in mass graves, he said.

He said these women are left in the lurch. They are not even able to get share in properties that belong to their husbands while their children suffer the most. “This is a war crime and India must be held accountable for this crime and justice be granted to these suffering Kashmiri women – the half widows.

The webinar was also addressed by Afzal Khan MP and Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, a former member of the House of Lords, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Chairperson Peace and Culture, Mushaal Hussain Mullick, International Political Strategist, Sheni Hamid, poet and writer, Hafsa Ashraf, Information Secretary  Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK, Rehana Ali, and Councillor, Sumira Khurshid.

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