Dated: 09/05/2016

Chairperson Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), Parveena Ahanger Sunday said Kashmiri mothers like her don’t have any expectations from women chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti.

Speaking on the occasion of ‘Mother’s Day’, celebrating an ‘overlooked diversity’ of woman in Kashmir, Ahanger expressed her views on ‘being a woman’ at a local cafe here. Ahanger whose son ‘disappeared’ in 1990’s said that she has no expectations from Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in bringing back dear ones (disappeared persons) of thousands of Kashmiri mothers  back home.  “Mufti Sayeed did not stay here. Neither will Mehbooba. She calls me her mother. But she won’t understand our pain,” Ahanger said. “Mufti has sent her daughters to other countries and that she doesn’t know the pain of losing a child that is shared by thousands of woman in Kashmir.”

Ahanger moistened eyes of more than 50 women from different walks of life who sat at Goodfellas Cafe, to express their idea of ‘being a Woman in Kashmir.’ The women gathered to celebrate the resilience, achievement and individual struggles of women.

“I am no leader. I am a victim. But I will fight till my last breath. I will fight so this new generation doesn’t go through what we went through,” said Ahanger. Ahanger shared her ordeal of being a mother of her disappeared son Yasir and pain of many other women like Mogal Maas, Haja Apa, Jana begum and many more.  Happy with her usual life, Ahanger said she had not moved beyond Lal Chowk. “But the disappearance of my son took me beyond mental, geographical and political boundaries,” Ahangar said.

She also said that interns from Delhi and other countries come to her and work with APDP. Disappointed with the students of Kashmir, she said, “Interns from rest of India or world come from to us. They learn about us. It is shameful on part of Kashmir University students who never come to us, to fight with us,” he said.

One such student was Bhavneet Kaur, a PhD Scholar from Delhi University. Bhavneet brought smiles on faces of women and men sitting there when she said, ‘I am from India and this is Kashmir.’ She also said that Ahnager was an inspiration for her among all other young and old woman of Kashmir ‘who have been resisting occupation.’

Meanwhile, Maria Hearty, a business woman married to a Kashmiri farmer here shared her observation of 20 years about men and army men in Kashmir.  “I know how empowered a person is with a gun in hand. I salute all Kashmiri woman, given the number of army men in Kashmir,” said Hearty.

Academician Neerja Mattoo? and Nusrat Andrabi? spoke about the cultural and historical context and how the times have changed in Kashmir. Academicians Sabiha Mufti, Shahzana  ?Andrabi, Fozia Qazi and Mona Bhan also spoke at the event about the individual struggles and also highlighted the importance of women rights and women education. They also shared with the audience the important work they have been doing as academicians.

“Going beyond the urban centric approach and understanding the lives of women living in villages and their daily struggle is important for us,” Shazana Andrabi, a lecturer in Centre for International Relations, IUST,” said.  Women journalists, entrepreneurs, students, activists, Lawyers, artists, doctors and others also participated in the event where many among them spoke about their experiences and ideas in the backdrop of being a woman.  Gazala Amin, accomplished business women in the valley emphasized the need for staying determined on the path of success even though one might face odds.   “If you need to change your surroundings change yourself and remain steadfast on your goal and think big,” said Gazala.  The individual speeches were followed by a question and answer session where questions were posed at the women speakers. The engaging and interactive session lasted more than two hours and was highly energetic throughout.  The event was sponsored by ‘My Rahat’ which aims at providing educational, agricultural and health services to empower people residing in rural areas.