Protests mark Intl Women’s Day in Kashmir

SRINAGAR: On International Women’s Day, various pro-freedom groups staged protests in Srinagar to highlight the atrocities committed on women by government forces in Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) staged a protest in Srinagar against what it termed `excesses committed on women by the Indian state’.
Bashir Ahmad Bhat, vice chairman of JKLF, who led the protest march, said that incidents such as killing of an innocent girl Shaista in Pulwama during an encounter with militants was highly condemnable.
“Indian forces don’t leave any opportunity to target women in Kashmir. Innocent women are caught in a catch-22 situation where their dignity is at stake,” Dar said. He said that it was the moral duty of all of us to stand for women. He added that JKLF through this protest intends to send a message to the international community that Kashmiri women also need its support as “they are the worst victims of state-sponsored oppression.”
Holding placards with messages seeking women empowerment and upholding their dignity, members of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) also held a protest in Srinagar to highlight Kashmiri women’s struggle for truth and justice.
A spokesperson of APDP said that women have been most vulnerable in Kashmir as thousands of rape and molestation cases involving government forces have been reported so far.
“Women in Kashmir have suffered at the hands of Armed forces. There are more than 1500 women waiting for their disappeared husbands and are referred to as half widows,” the spokesperson added. A woman protestor, whose husband is missing, said that women in Kashmir are deprived of their basic rights while those in other parts of the world are treated at par with men.
“Kashmiri women have dominated struggle for justice. In the cases of killings, disappearances and rapes, it is the women who have taken to streets, filed cases in courts and also campaigned for justice,” she said.
Kashmir Tehreek-e-Khawateen (KTK), a pro-freedom women’s organization, too held a protest to highlight cases of atrocities and domestic violence against women.
Zamruda Habib, chairperson of KTK said that seven lakh Indian forces are involved in making Kashmiri women as ‘soft targets’. She said Kashmiris have lost faith on inquiry commissions set-up to probe cases of rape and molestation by the government forces.
”Women have been brutally targeted in Kashmir. There have been cases of mass rapes which are heart wrenching.
Our protest is in solidarity with women and against Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which gives a free hand to forces. Incidents like rape and murder of Asiya and Neelofar in Shopian, Doda and Kunan Poshpora incidents have been pushed under the carpet by the government,” Zamrooda said.

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