Our scars, our story

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TASLEEMA AKHTER

IN my speech at the United Nations, as a social and human rights activist, I portrayed the clear picture of Pakistan-backed terrorism in the Valley of Kashmir. Inescapably, Pakistan has destroyed the blooming generations of Kashmir with the infusion of gun-culture, proxy separatists and hardcore terrorists. Terrorism has destroyed the socio-economic ethos of Kashmir which was famous for tolerant and Sufi culture.

I have been working on ground for nearly a decade now. I regularly come across various cases of victims in which terrorists have bombarded their families and lone bread-winners for the cause with a dead end. The culture of terrorism has evoked support from mercenaries and with the flow of cash from across the border by Pakistan, it has taken its head out in Kashmir and destroyed our diversity and generations.

Tasleema Akhter, a Kashmir based Senior Socio Political activist of Human rights violations

I attempted to expose varied terrorist activities in my speech at the UN wherein I tried to make the global community realise the damages caused by Pakistan sponsored terrorism in the Valley. The innocent victims who have fallen prey to the guns of Pakistan have found narrow grounds and graves in Kashmir. The separatists working at the behest of Pakistan have made people think that those supporting the Indian cause in Kashmir die impure while those dying for Pakistan are true deaths. This narrative spread so far and wide that it consumed lives of elders, our youth and women in the Valley who could not look into the future with hope.

During my speech, I shared that unfortunately, since my childhood, I had witnessed violence and killings of innocent persons by Pakistan sponsored terrorism. Unbearable sufferings of women, children, old and young alike, at the hands of these terrorists have led me to work for the cause of seeking justice for the families of such victims. I have come across fearful stories of acts of terror and massacres. Shockingly, most of these stories are unknown to the outside world.

The contemporary order of the world does not pay heed to the sufferings of Kashmiris. In most instances, the killings by Pakistan-backed terrorism were ignored and went into thin air while these terrorists were given clean chits for the crimes they committed in the Valley.

 

I have met the kin of the victims of terrorism to know their travails with an aim to present such stories at an appropriate platform. The terror-struck families have pathetic and very emotional tales to tell. Orphans, destitute, widows and ailing elderly people are there with no bread-winners at home. The void left behind cannot be filled up for generations. The world must know how the people of Kashmir have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of Pakistan sponsored terrorists operating under the garb of ‘freedom fighters’.

While the UT administration is bringing transformational changes for the betterment of the region, the people of PoJK are still living at the mercy of the Pakistan government that has utter disregard for people there and their basic human rights and amenities. And I pointed this in my remarks at the UN meet.

I said: “I appeal to the UN that your freedom fighter is my killer. I work for the inclusive idea of India in Kashmir in which we believe in participatory democracy, elections, strengthening democracy and power in the hands of people. Terrorists would never like to see their garrison shackled after women like me have come to the ground to show them the mirror. We work at the cost of our lives for the idea of a great India.”

I work to better the lives of the victims of Pakistan sponsored terrorism. I work for better reservation of women and these victims in government jobs and institutions. These victims are foot soldiers who worked unrelenting to integrate Kashmir to the idea of greater India. The demeanour of these women is in high spirits and we need to tap them for their glorious future.

I also told the UNHRC that in terms of education and literacy rate, the UT was far ahead of PoJK (Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir). I mentioned that the government of India spent nine times more on education in the UT compared to its counterpart. I pointed that PoJK was facing major crisis in its education sector, lacking basic infrastructure including buildings and roofs, clean water, toilets, etc. causing acute hardships to students, resulting in a severe dropout ratio.

Then, change is perceptible in the health sector in the Valley. People of J&K are availing of health benefits in even the remotest areas under national health schemes, which is a distant dream for the people of PoJK. GoI provides the people of Jammu and Kashmir with universal health insurance coverage for up to USD 6,000 per family. The health facilities in PoJK, however, are abysmal with absence of even primary hospitals.

I appeal to the UN Human Rights Council to take appropriate action against the perpetrators of such inhuman acts so that the people of Kashmir can live happily and peacefully thereafter.

 

(The writer is an internationally recognised social and human rights activist from Kashmir)

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