On the festive occasion of Eid-Ul-Adha, people of Jammu and Kashmir are in no mood to rejoice. The continued lockdown and snapping of communication lines is the reason for their sorrow. People of J&K who are in other parts of the countries have no way to reach out to their families and wish them well. At a time when they would have gone back home and celebrated together with their families, relished on delicacies prepared and have got Eidi from their elders, they are compelled to stay in ‘safer’ states until the situation calms down. As they wait till they can hear from their families again, Kashmiris in the capital observed a silent protest and hence Eid at Jantar Mantar ‘to show their resilience’ on Monday.
“I was supposed to wake up early and dress up in the best clothes that I own and I was supposed to see men flocking towards Eidgah hugging each other and wishing Eid Mubarak to everyone. I was supposed to help my Chachi in preparing the Daawat for the guests.”
A woman who was supposed to go back home for Eid
“There is no reason to celebrate the festival. There is no Eid in Kashmir and there cannot be one right now. I completed my education a few days ago and I was supposed to go back home to my family in Kashmir to celebrate Eid. I was supposed to wake up early and dress up in the best clothes that I own and I was supposed to see men flocking towards Eidgah (a term used in South Asian Islamic culture for the open-air enclosure usually outside the city reserved for Eid prayers) hugging each other and wishing Eid Mubarak to everyone. I was supposed to help my Chachi in preparing the Daawat for the guests.
Yet I find myself here in Delhi to celebrate Eid. While there is no reason to celebrate but if there’s anything yet—it is our resilience, hope, and strength that we celebrate today,” said Sharika Ameen. Ameen, who belongs to Anantnag in South Kashmir, came to Delhi to study Clinical Psychology from Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
A teenager who hurried out of the valley
A teenage girl from Srinagar, Fiza Shaukat, came to Delhi yesterday to live with her uncle as she couldn’t bear the tension back home. Tying a dupatta around her face and holding a poster that contained a scripture from the Quran, the 11th grader told SheThePeople.TV, “I came to Delhi because I couldn’t take the current situation in my city. I got extremely stressed and wasn’t able to concentrate on my studies as there is no way to attend schools and the environment at home is also not favourable. I carried my books along with me to Delhi but I don’t know what to do with them anymore. My studies are terribly affected. My flight was in the evening at 6 pm but we started from home at six in the morning because we were very scared.
Today is such a big festival for us but I can’t speak with my family. I couldn’t wish them, Eid Mubarak. This situation has taken Kashmir back to the stone-age. My relatives sent a letter through me addressed to their children staying here and other parts of the country.”
Talking about the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, she said, “We got to know about it on Monday last week. I woke up as usual for school after my alarm rang and when I checked my phone I realized there was no service available. I went out and my mother told me there is curfew all over and then there were announcements that no one can go out of their homes otherwise they will have to face strict action.”
“They told me that the curfew is going to begin in Kashmir. They asked me to not go out much and not engage with media or anyone else because it is going to be difficult. The other issue was the financial issue that students like me studying outside the home will be facing because we don’t know for how long this communication blockage will last.”
Juveria Syed, who is from Srinagar and is currently studying in Delhi for the last four years, said that the last time she spoke to her parents, they asked her to not venture out much. “They told me that the curfew is going to begin in Kashmir. They asked me to not go out much and not engage with media or anyone else because it is going to be difficult. The other issue was the financial issue that students like me studying outside the home will be facing because we don’t know for how long this communication blockage will last. It was the end of the month when we started to know about the curfew and every student was waiting for their allowance for the next month. My parents were preparing me for that,” Syed said.
People talked about their families requiring medical help, their relatives being severely ill requiring medicines but not being able to procure because of the indefinite curfew. “My naani is extremely sick back home in Tral. Both her sons are in the forces and there is no one to look after her. If something happens to her, how will we know?” said Shagufta Shah. While Shah’s family shifted to Delhi a few years back, her paternal and maternal family is still living in Tral. She last spoke to them 15 days ago and she visited her homeland last year while her visit this year was postponed due to her exams and now with the curfew.
The misogyny that Kashmiri women have had to confront
The Kashmir the issue also opened up a sexist conversation after politicians said that now party workers can marry fair-skinned women of Kashmiri now with the Articles being revoked. These were the words of BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district. Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar also reiterated similar sentiments recently in a speech at a Beti Bachao Beti Padhao event. We spoke to Kashmiri women about their thoughts on these statements. “Women have always been an integral part of Kashmir’s struggle. The way women have suffered in Kashmir, it has always been in the context of sexual violence and that imagery runs throughout. This abrogation has just brought the politicians’ misogyny on the forefront,” says Syed.
“Politicians’ the first job is to ensure the safety of Kashmiris, instead of doing that, they are making such comments and showing their true side to the country and the world,” says Shagufta.
Agreeing to Shagufta, Sharika says, “It goes on to show the larger mindset and how trivial the entire matter is to them. Is it the occupation of women and their bodies without their consent? Is this what all this about?”
“Since the abrogation of the Articles, it is almost as if the certain constituency is unable to contain its excitement. What this betrays is a complete lack of respect for Kashmir, the Kashmiri people and Kashmiri women.”
Noted feminist Farha Naqvi who was also present at the protest, says, “Since the abrogation of the Articles, it is almost as if the certain constituency is unable to contain its excitement. What this betrays is a complete lack of respect for Kashmir, the Kashmiri people and Kashmiri women.”
While speaking in the Rajya Sabha proposing abrogation of Article 35A and 370, Amit Shah spoke about how women of Kashmir can now inherit their father’s properties even if they marry someone outside Kashmir. The Article 35A had been read down in a 2002 J&K High court judgment that allowed Kashmiri women to inherit their father’s properties if they choose to marry outside the valley, Naqvi said, “They are peddling an absolute lie by saying that abrogating 35A empowers women.” It is to be noted that with the reading down of the Article, while the women, who chose to marry outside Kashmir continued to inherit their father’s property, her children weren’t yet allowed to inherit her father’s property. However, with the outlawing of Article 35A, it has become a possibility.