by Khalid Bashir Gura
SRINAGAR: A group of Pakistani origin Kashmiri brides staged a protest in press colony here in Lalchowk area of Srinagar demanding formal citizenship and travel documents to visit Pakistan.
The protesting women appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan to intervene in the matter and allow them to travel to Pakistan.
They alleged that the government has done nothing to help their families as they have not been provided with the citizenship rights as promised and travel documents.
“Allow us to return to Pakistan or provide us with the needed facilities to settle along with our husbands and children with dignity in Kashmir like other people. We have no identity, travel documents, and ration cards. No school agrees to admit our children,” said one of the protestor.
“If we are illegal in this land, jail us and deport but don’t keep us and our families in uncertainty. Allow us to live normal lives. We are also humans,” said Safiya Mohammad Syed, adding that nobody listens to us. We are tagged as Nepal returnees and beyond that there is no social identity of ours.
She said that the fate of dozens of such families hang in suspension since they have scant means of livelihood and even social acceptability.
“Every day is torture for me. I am missing my family. I have a little kid. I feel as if I am caged. I have not seen my parents, siblings and relatives for many years,” said another protestor.
She said that many women passed away without seeing their families, many of them could not participate in the last rites of their relatives in Pakistan.
The women had arrived in Kashmir along with their husbands after then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced a rehabilitation programme for surrendered militants in 2010.
The protestor’s forewarned authorities to provide travel documents to visit families in Pakistan. “In desperation, we are bound to take life risk actions and cross the Line of Control (LOC) with our families.”
The protesting women also appealed Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to look into this matter.