In illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, 43-year-old, Saira Javid has been craving to visit her parents’ home in Azad Kashmir but cannot go back due to existing laws.
Saira, living in Kupwara, IIOJK, who traces her roots to the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, says her ancestors came from Muzaffarabad and settled in Karachi. In 2001, she married a Kashmiri, Javid Ahmad Dar. The couple had two children and was living happily in Karachi.
Her bad days started with her arrival in Kashmir in 2011. “We returned to Kashmir on repeated insistences of my husband’s family. I was not willing to come here but Javid persuaded me,” she says.
On their arrival in Kashmir, the couple along with their two children were arrested and had to spend three to six months in Central Jail, Srinagar, before being released. “I tried to visit Pakistan through Wagah border in 2018 but immigration authorities did not allow me,” she says.
Saira, who is now a mother of four children, laments the day when she decided to move to Kashmir. “It was my biggest mistake. I did not even have the luxury of seeing the face of my father when he passed away two months ago. I am living in an open prison here,” she told media.
This is not the tale of Saira alone. It is the story of every “stateless” bride from AJK married to Kashmiris who went to Azad Kashmir and returned back.
Nearly 350 such Pakistani brides living in Kashmir have no citizenship rights or travel documents. All of them want to go back and meet their parents but cannot do so.
For the past 10 years, they have been staging protests in different parts of Kashmir to seek citizenship rights and travel documents to visit Pakistan. “We have now lost hope of getting citizenship rights. Now they should declare us illegal immigrants and deport us back to Pakistan along with our husbands and children,” they told a news conference in Srinagar last week.
They also threatened to march towards the LoC to highlight their plight. Nusrat Begum of Athmuqam of AJK, who arrived in Kashmir in 2008, is facing financial constraints to bring up her children after her marriage ended up in divorce.
“Women go to parents’ home after divorce. But where will I go? I am alone here. Please deport me back to Pakistan,” says Nusrat, who is living in a rented accommodation in Kupwara town and works in a boutique run by Saira.
One such bride committed suicide in Naidkhai area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district in 2014.—KMS