Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Women and Government Apathy in Kashmir

Expand Messages
  • Sukla Sen
    http://www.blonnet.com/life/2006/10/06/stories/2006100600140400.htm Who s the victim? Aditi Bhaduri Militancy has left J&K with an estimated 40,000 widows. But
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 2, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      http://www.blonnet.com/life/2006/10/06/stories/2006100600140400.htm

      Who's the victim?
      Aditi Bhaduri

      Militancy has left J&K with an estimated 40,000
      widows. But government help is selective and
      arbitrary, adversely affecting many families.


      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Whatever the actual numbers, it is clear that the
      government's relief scheme for the families of the
      victims of militants has not been a success.

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


      Terror strikes: Nearly 200 widows struggle to make
      ends meet in Dardpora village of Kupwara district. -
      NISSAR AHMAD
      Across the Dal Lake, in an idyllic island setting in
      Gawmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, sits 32-year-old Firdausa.
      She is weaving and her fingers move mechanically. Her
      eyes are tired and she neither notices the sun shining
      brightly overhead nor the cedars in bloom around her.
      She has two ageing parents-in-law and two small
      children to care for. Born into a poor family,
      Firdausa's life was never easy, but things turned
      particularly bleak after her husband — the only
      earning member of her family — died in a militant
      attack. She is now the sole earning member in the
      family.
      Though registered under the compassionate appointment
      rule — SRO 43 (a State government directive under
      Central government supervision) — Firdausa's is a long
      wait. She is entitled to an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1
      lakh, but only part of the money was released. It was
      spent within two years. The rest of the money, meant
      for the children, will be released only when the
      children turn 18. Now, weaving beautiful Kashmiri
      shawls, Firdausa makes only about Rs 1,000 a month in
      spite of the backbreaking labour she puts in.
      Firdausa is not alone. Ghausiya, 21, has a
      four-year-old daughter. Her husband was killed by the
      army three years ago. Since he was a suspect, the
      government offered her no relief. Unwanted by her
      mother-in-law and two brothers-in-law, she went back
      to her mother, also a widow. Last year, her sister
      lost her husband in an accident and came to live with
      them. The three women sustain themselves by taking up
      odd jobs, mostly weaving.
      The authorities have no census for the number of
      widows such as Ghausiya and Firdaus in the Kashmir
      valley. The State Women's Commission, which has been
      without a chairperson for the last two years, too has
      no official figures to quote. Unofficially, though,
      the Commission puts the number of women whose husbands
      were killed in `militancy-related activities' — that
      is, both widows of those killed by militants as well
      as those killed by armed forces — at around 40,000.
      The Public Commission on Human Rights (PCHR), also
      unofficially, puts the number at 25,000-30,000. The
      PCHR puts the number of women whose husbands were
      killed by the armed forces at more than 50 per cent of
      all women widowed due to `militancy-related violence'.

      Dr Hameeda Banu — Professor of English at Kashmir
      University and Founding Member, Women Waging Peace,
      Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University —
      explains: "With 17 years of conflict claiming the
      lives of an ever-increasing number of men, more and
      more women are the main bread-earners," she says.
      Whatever the actual numbers, though, it is clear that
      the government's relief scheme for the families of the
      victims of militants has not been a success.
      The most immediate concern is that the government's
      definition of `victims of militancy' is narrow. It
      only accounts for those killed by militants; all
      people killed by the armed forces are automatically
      classified as `militants'. "Government largesse does
      not extend to families of those classified as
      `militants' — and these families are in a majority in
      the Kashmir valley. They are left to fend for
      themselves; their children suffer, go hungry, are
      unschooled and are often forced into child labour,"
      says Asiea Naqash, a member of Srinagar Municipal
      Corporation and Secretary General of the women's wing
      of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).
      The Social Welfare Department doles out a meagre
      stipend (about Rs 200 per month) to militancy-affected
      widows, but this does not include women whose husbands
      died in an army encounter. Similarly, the National
      Foundation for Communal Harmony, set up by the Indian
      Home Ministry, provides Rs 600 per month only for
      children of people killed by militants.
      "How are the children of so-called militants at fault?
      The government does nothing for them. Can we blame
      them if they take up the gun when they grow up?" asks
      Naqash. The PDP has been pleading with the Centre for
      the past three years to provide aid to all children
      who suffer due to militancy, without any
      categorisation.
      Some NGOs such as the Maqbool National Welfare
      Association (MANWA) and the Yateem Trust — both
      working with orphans and widows in Kashmir — have also
      taken up this issue with both the State and Central
      governments. According to Abdul Rasheed Hangura,
      General Secretary of the Yateem Trust and State
      representative to the National Planning Commission,
      there are 15,308 orphans whose fathers were killed by
      the armed forces. Both Hangura and Hashim Qureishi,
      Chairperson of MANWA and of the Democratic Liberation
      Party, demand that the government provide relief in
      some measure to widows and children of those the
      government categorises as `militants'. "Otherwise, the
      government could be creating an entire generation of
      terrorists," warns Qureishi.
      However, most NGOs in Kashmir have not taken up this
      issue with the government. Nighat Shafi Pandit of HELP
      Foundation, which also works with orphans and widows
      in Kashmir, feels that it is better to set up her own
      initiatives than waste time lobbying with the
      government.
      Meanwhile, even the widows and children who meet the
      government's `victims of militancy' definition have
      not found justice or aid forthcoming. SRO 43, passed
      in 1994, guarantees the next of kin of such victims an
      ex gratia relief of Rs 1 lakh and a Grade IV
      government job. But there are not enough jobs to go
      around and the bureaucratic red tape further lengthens
      the process, government officials explain. There are
      an estimated 3,000 cases pending still, according to
      the office of the Divisional Commissioner.
      There are schemes in Jammu and Kashmir that do not
      discriminate along the lines of SRO 43. However, even
      these schemes have proved to be ineffective.
      There are several Central government schemes available
      to all poor women, including widows, irrespective of
      the category they come under. But the Social Welfare
      Department, which is responsible for the schemes, is
      accused of not disseminating information adequately,
      leaving the potential beneficiaries unaware of the
      schemes' existence. Shamim Firdaus, President, Women's
      Wing, National Conference, accuses the Department of
      corruption, nepotism and poor work culture. Many
      others, like Pandit and Qureishi, also make these
      charges.
      The State's Rural Development Department, for example,
      has self-employment schemes for poor women, which
      includes all categories of widows. But here too,
      lengthy procedures and bureaucracy affect the timely
      administration of aid. The women end up spending a
      long time going from one desk to the other in the
      department.
      Nahid Soz, Managing Director of the Women's
      Development Corporation, a body that grants loans to
      individuals, confesses that the time taken between
      submission of a loan application and the actual
      reimbursement of the loan can go beyond six months.
      And the process is, of course, saddled with red-tapism
      just as it is in the other departments. In her current
      post for only two months, Soz is now trying to ensure
      that the whole process is completed in under a month.
      Naqash has managed to register some 300 women with a
      scheme offered by the Handicrafts Department, for
      which she has had to stand in as guarantor herself.
      Many more await registration.
      At Naqash's office, a quiet old widow, in her mid-60s,
      pulls out her son's photograph. Her only son, killed
      by the Indian army. She will get no relief from the
      government; a bank loan is her only hope. Unless the
      government includes her — and others like her — in SRO
      43.
      Women's Feature Service



      ___________________________________________________________
      What kind of emailer are you? Find out today - get a free analysis of your email personality. Take the quiz at the Yahoo! Mail Championship.
      http://uk.rd.yahoo.com/evt=44106/*http://mail.yahoo.net/uk
    • divya mithel
      Dear Mr. Sukla Sen, It is the utter sadness I experience whenever I learn about the unfortunate widows of J&K. Tomorrow,India along with the rest of the world
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 7, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        Dear Mr. Sukla Sen,
                                    It is the utter sadness I experience whenever I learn about the unfortunate widows of J&K. Tomorrow,India along with the rest of the world celebrates it's International Woman's Day. what is there to celebrate? As an Indian I feel ashamed that our women are suffering for absolutely no fault of thiers and we all are watching this helplessly.When would this stop? Any hope?
                                        dr. divya

        Sukla Sen <suklasenp@...> wrote:
        http://www.blonnet. com/life/ 2006/10/06/ stories/20061006 00140400. htm

        Who's the victim?
        Aditi Bhaduri

        Militancy has left J&K with an estimated 40,000
        widows. But government help is selective and
        arbitrary, adversely affecting many families.

        ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

        Whatever the actual numbers, it is clear that the
        government's relief scheme for the families of the
        victims of militants has not been a success.

        ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

        Terror strikes: Nearly 200 widows struggle to make
        ends meet in Dardpora village of Kupwara district. -
        NISSAR AHMAD
        Across the Dal Lake, in an idyllic island setting in
        Gawmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, sits 32-year-old Firdausa.
        She is weaving and her fingers move mechanically. Her
        eyes are tired and she neither notices the sun shining
        brightly overhead nor the cedars in bloom around her.
        She has two ageing parents-in-law and two small
        children to care for. Born into a poor family,
        Firdausa's life was never easy, but things turned
        particularly bleak after her husband — the only
        earning member of her family — died in a militant
        attack. She is now the sole earning member in the
        family.
        Though registered under the compassionate appointment
        rule — SRO 43 (a State government directive under
        Central government supervision) — Firdausa's is a long
        wait. She is entitled to an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1
        lakh, but only part of the money was released. It was
        spent within two years. The rest of the money, meant
        for the children, will be released only when the
        children turn 18. Now, weaving beautiful Kashmiri
        shawls, Firdausa makes only about Rs 1,000 a month in
        spite of the backbreaking labour she puts in.
        Firdausa is not alone. Ghausiya, 21, has a
        four-year-old daughter. Her husband was killed by the
        army three years ago. Since he was a suspect, the
        government offered her no relief. Unwanted by her
        mother-in-law and two brothers-in- law, she went back
        to her mother, also a widow. Last year, her sister
        lost her husband in an accident and came to live with
        them. The three women sustain themselves by taking up
        odd jobs, mostly weaving.
        The authorities have no census for the number of
        widows such as Ghausiya and Firdaus in the Kashmir
        valley. The State Women's Commission, which has been
        without a chairperson for the last two years, too has
        no official figures to quote. Unofficially, though,
        the Commission puts the number of women whose husbands
        were killed in `militancy-related activities' — that
        is, both widows of those killed by militants as well
        as those killed by armed forces — at around 40,000.
        The Public Commission on Human Rights (PCHR), also
        unofficially, puts the number at 25,000-30,000. The
        PCHR puts the number of women whose husbands were
        killed by the armed forces at more than 50 per cent of
        all women widowed due to `militancy-related violence'.

        Dr Hameeda Banu — Professor of English at Kashmir
        University and Founding Member, Women Waging Peace,
        Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University —
        explains: "With 17 years of conflict claiming the
        lives of an ever-increasing number of men, more and
        more women are the main bread-earners, " she says.
        Whatever the actual numbers, though, it is clear that
        the government's relief scheme for the families of the
        victims of militants has not been a success.
        The most immediate concern is that the government's
        definition of `victims of militancy' is narrow. It
        only accounts for those killed by militants; all
        people killed by the armed forces are automatically
        classified as `militants'. "Government largesse does
        not extend to families of those classified as
        `militants' — and these families are in a majority in
        the Kashmir valley. They are left to fend for
        themselves; their children suffer, go hungry, are
        unschooled and are often forced into child labour,"
        says Asiea Naqash, a member of Srinagar Municipal
        Corporation and Secretary General of the women's wing
        of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).
        The Social Welfare Department doles out a meagre
        stipend (about Rs 200 per month) to militancy-affected
        widows, but this does not include women whose husbands
        died in an army encounter. Similarly, the National
        Foundation for Communal Harmony, set up by the Indian
        Home Ministry, provides Rs 600 per month only for
        children of people killed by militants.
        "How are the children of so-called militants at fault?
        The government does nothing for them. Can we blame
        them if they take up the gun when they grow up?" asks
        Naqash. The PDP has been pleading with the Centre for
        the past three years to provide aid to all children
        who suffer due to militancy, without any
        categorisation.
        Some NGOs such as the Maqbool National Welfare
        Association (MANWA) and the Yateem Trust — both
        working with orphans and widows in Kashmir — have also
        taken up this issue with both the State and Central
        governments. According to Abdul Rasheed Hangura,
        General Secretary of the Yateem Trust and State
        representative to the National Planning Commission,
        there are 15,308 orphans whose fathers were killed by
        the armed forces. Both Hangura and Hashim Qureishi,
        Chairperson of MANWA and of the Democratic Liberation
        Party, demand that the government provide relief in
        some measure to widows and children of those the
        government categorises as `militants'. "Otherwise, the
        government could be creating an entire generation of
        terrorists," warns Qureishi.
        However, most NGOs in Kashmir have not taken up this
        issue with the government. Nighat Shafi Pandit of HELP
        Foundation, which also works with orphans and widows
        in Kashmir, feels that it is better to set up her own
        initiatives than waste time lobbying with the
        government.
        Meanwhile, even the widows and children who meet the
        government's `victims of militancy' definition have
        not found justice or aid forthcoming. SRO 43, passed
        in 1994, guarantees the next of kin of such victims an
        ex gratia relief of Rs 1 lakh and a Grade IV
        government job. But there are not enough jobs to go
        around and the bureaucratic red tape further lengthens
        the process, government officials explain. There are
        an estimated 3,000 cases pending still, according to
        the office of the Divisional Commissioner.
        There are schemes in Jammu and Kashmir that do not
        discriminate along the lines of SRO 43. However, even
        these schemes have proved to be ineffective.
        There are several Central government schemes available
        to all poor women, including widows, irrespective of
        the category they come under. But the Social Welfare
        Department, which is responsible for the schemes, is
        accused of not disseminating information adequately,
        leaving the potential beneficiaries unaware of the
        schemes' existence. Shamim Firdaus, President, Women's
        Wing, National Conference, accuses the Department of
        corruption, nepotism and poor work culture. Many
        others, like Pandit and Qureishi, also make these
        charges.
        The State's Rural Development Department, for example,
        has self-employment schemes for poor women, which
        includes all categories of widows. But here too,
        lengthy procedures and bureaucracy affect the timely
        administration of aid. The women end up spending a
        long time going from one desk to the other in the
        department.
        Nahid Soz, Managing Director of the Women's
        Development Corporation, a body that grants loans to
        individuals, confesses that the time taken between
        submission of a loan application and the actual
        reimbursement of the loan can go beyond six months.
        And the process is, of course, saddled with red-tapism
        just as it is in the other departments. In her current
        post for only two months, Soz is now trying to ensure
        that the whole process is completed in under a month.
        Naqash has managed to register some 300 women with a
        scheme offered by the Handicrafts Department, for
        which she has had to stand in as guarantor herself.
        Many more await registration.
        At Naqash's office, a quiet old widow, in her mid-60s,
        pulls out her son's photograph. Her only son, killed
        by the Indian army. She will get no relief from the
        government; a bank loan is her only hope. Unless the
        government includes her — and others like her — in SRO
        43.
        Women's Feature Service


        ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
        What kind of emailer are you? Find out today - get a free analysis of your email personality. Take the quiz at the Yahoo! Mail Championship.
        http://uk.rd. yahoo.com/ evt=44106/ *http://mail. yahoo.net/ uk


        Never miss an email again!
        Yahoo! Toolbar
        alerts you the instant new Mail arrives. Check it out.

      • Sukla Sen
        Thanx a lot for your thoughtful response. The Woman s Day, I d submit that, has been somewhat hijacked by various forces. Of course the (rather substantial)
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 8, 2007
        • 0 Attachment
          Thanx a lot for your thoughtful response.

          The Woman's Day, I'd submit that, has been somewhat
          hijacked by various forces.
          Of course the (rather substantial) achievements made
          so far, away from the days when women used to be burnt
          alive at the pyres of the deceased husbands, should
          and must be celebrated.
          But the central theme and the overriding spirit must
          be the renewal of the determination to carry forward
          the process of liberation further and further.

          Thanks again.

          Sukla
          --- divya mithel <d_mithel@...> wrote:

          > Dear Mr. Sukla Sen,
          > It is the utter
          > sadness I experience whenever I learn about the
          > unfortunate widows of J&K. Tomorrow,India along with
          > the rest of the world celebrates it's International
          > Woman's Day. what is there to celebrate? As an
          > Indian I feel ashamed that our women are suffering
          > for absolutely no fault of thiers and we all are
          > watching this helplessly.When would this stop? Any
          > hope?
          > dr. divya
          >
          > Sukla Sen <suklasenp@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          http://www.blonnet.com/life/2006/10/06/stories/2006100600140400.htm
          >
          > Who's the victim?
          > Aditi Bhaduri
          >
          > Militancy has left J&K with an estimated 40,000
          > widows. But government help is selective and
          > arbitrary, adversely affecting many families.
          >
          > ----------------------------------------------------------





          ___________________________________________________________
          Yahoo! Messenger - NEW crystal clear PC to PC calling worldwide with voicemail http://uk.messenger.yahoo.com
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.