They picked up arms and fought for their convictions, but the militants’ and ex-militants’ sisters and female relatives are being rejected by the society their brothers fought for. Saima Bhat reports.
Shaheena is 42, and unmarried. Although she was engaged in 1994, her would-be in-laws broke up the engagement within a month after they learnt that Shaheena’s brother was a militant. Her family kept on looking for a match for her but had to face disappointment everywhere for the same reason.
“They tried to find excuses to get rid of us. They gave us a month’s time to make preparations for the marriage. We couldn’t get ready in that short period. Finally, they broke up the engagement,” says Shaheena. In the same month, Shaheena’s brother was arrested.
Her mother, who could not bear both these incidents, died of a shock.
A decade ago, nobody objected marrying a militant’s or ex-militants sister. But now, it is common for families not to marry off their sons in a family where a brother or any other member has been a militant. The reasons are many. The main reason is that the families don’t want to be the targets intimidation or raids by the army or police.
It is a painful reality for girls who are related to militants or those having some association with militancy.
“There was a time when being the sister of a militant used to be a matter of pride but now we are being treated in an entirely different way. I feel really angry about those people who reject us for being related to militants. Our brothers took up arms and joined the freedom movement for the sake of these people only,” says Sahiba.
Sahiba is getting married to her cousin after she met refusals from a number of families because her brother was a militant.
“One of the families who rejected me told us that they couldn’t marry off their son to a girl whose brother has to attend the police station regularly. Finally, my family decided to marry me off to my cousin.”
Even if the family of the girl is well off, people still do not prefer to have a girl from that family as their son’s bride. Ultimately there are compromises.
Nuzhat, a teacher with a postgraduate degree had to marry a shopkeeper who has studied up to 12th standard. The reason was that her brother was a militant.
“I had dreamt of marrying a person who is equally qualified as I am, but fate had something else in store for me.”
She also says that initially it had been very difficult for her to adjust with her husband but she gradually managed to live with him“happily”.
These problems are not faced by the sisters of militants only. Militants themselves face similar problems. Ashraf, an ex-militant and now a successful businessman, is married to Shazia, who has never been to school. Ashrafgotmarried to Shaziaafter he couldn’t get a desirable match.
“It was hard for him to get a partner within a family whose standard was comparable to ours. Nobody agreed to marry him so we decided to find a girl from a poor family,” says Fatima, Ashraf’s mother.
Zarina is married to Bashir Ahmadforthe last 28 years. Bashir, who once was a top ranking militant, has spent 20 years in jail. Her brother has also been a militant but was killed in 1993. She has four more sisters who have crossed the marriageable age but are still unmarried.
“My sisters couldn’t get marriage proposals because we belong to a militant’s family,” says Zarina.