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A woman’s honour is more sacred than a martyr’s blood

A woman’s honour is more sacred than a martyr’s blood, says a Kashmiri woman activist in a documentary, “There was a Queen.”

The film directed by Kavita Pai and Hansa Thapliyal, shown at The Second Floor on Tuesday, depicted the phenomenon of disappearances and “invisible” sufferings of the women in held Kashmir, a Valley, which was “peaceful, serene and full of love.”

Perveen is the mother of six children two of whose sons are missing. One of them has been missing for 15 years. Two of the sons of another woman, Hajira, are also missing. On of them, Nazir Ahmed, has been missing for 10 years. Perveen forms an “Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons” to determine the whereabouts of missing persons running into thousands. She is meeting with mothers of disappeared persons to raise a voice against this atrocity.

Depicting the women’s reaction under these circumstances, the movie shows that initially, women tended to hurl stones on soldiers but now it is the children do this.

A woman poet, Naseem Shafai, says that by labeling every Kashmiri youth terrorists, the Indian security forces were creating “extremists out of innocent boys.”

The film contained moving scenes depicting the horrors let loose by oppressors.

Mahjabeen is a student wanting to become a lady doctor in order to help her father out of the poverty trap but one day, is gunned down by the security forces without provocation.

What Kashmiri women victims think about India and Pakistan, some ordinary women said “India destroyed itself, Pakistan also destroyed itself and we Kashmiris are caught in between them.” They continue to say that “both India and Pakistan make money and we get crushed.”

One mother of a martyred Mujahid in Malangam area where in each house there were four-five martyrs, says that the family would bear all hardships and poverty because “his blood would get us through on the Day of Judgment.”

However, everyone didn’t support violence.

Ms Hameeda Bano, Professor of English literature, claimed that the violence had shown its futility as custodial killings, rape etc had not ended.

“Peace can come when the army withdraws from Kashmir,” an ordinary woman said.

Ms Bano opined that the peace process between India and Pakistan would be on right path only when there is “immediate cessation of human rights violations, release of all prisoners, and an end to custodial killings.”

The movie shows that despite all horrors, the Kashmiri women still celebrate certain traditions and on one occasion, they were seen singing famous folk song, “do not die, the henna is still fresh on your hand, do not die yet, you are still too young to die.” This song is often sung when a young man dies and this poem is known as song of the Queen, from which the title of the film has been derived.

It ends on three-day peaceful demonstration of mothers of disappeared Kashmiri youths in New Delhi with voice of a man, demanding “a commission to hold inquiry into forced disappearances.”

Ms Gouri Patwardhan who edited the movie replying questions from the audience said it was directed towards Indian civil society not the Indian government. About its possible impact on Indian people, she cited an example of one student who, after going through this film in India, asked, “can’t we call Indian state a failed state?”
Source: The News
Date:1/23/2008

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