Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Married to Militants and Living in Hell-Kashmiri Girls

by Binoo Joshi(IANS)
Not all marriages are made in heaven. Some are solemnised at the point of a gun - as many women and teenaged girls in Jammu and Kashmir will tell you.
Forced marriage to militants has wrecked their lives in the insurgency-wracked state. Fatima Bi , now 16, who belonged to Chatroo, a mountainous village in Kishtwar district, told IANS over telephone that she was just 12 when she was abducted by militants.
She was studying in Class 7 in a local government school when one day a group of four militants led by Sher Khan, then divisional commander of Harkat-ul-Jehad- e-Islami (HUJI), barged into their house and kidnapped her.
'I was studying at that time when they abducted me,' she said.
'They took me to their hideout in the nearby forest where they beat me and tortured me for eight days. They hit me with rods on my thighs and threatened to kill my family if I did not marry Hashim Ditta ,' she said.
She said Ditta was a close friend of Sher Khan and a helper of HUJI.
'She was forced to marry Ditta at gun point,' said a police officer in Kishtwar.
Fatima wanted to study and become a teacher. 'But my dreams were shattered after they abducted and forcibly married me to Ditta,' Fatima said. Ten months after her marriage she gave birth to a son and her 'childhood was snatched away when I delivered this baby'.
A 'happy moment' for Fatima came when Sher Khan along with his two associates surrendered before the security forces last year.
'Except for bearing Ditta's child I never took him as my husband and there never was any such feeling as it was a forced marriage that ruined me,' she said.
Sher Khan was sentenced to imprisonment for eight years. Fatima took this as an opportunity and fled Ditta's house along with her infant son.
Ditta's parents, however, lodged a missing person report with police. Fatima went to her relatives in an adjoining village and fell in love with a farmer.
Her second chance at life was however not so easy as the local clerics said even if it was a forced marriage, Fatima would have to live with Ditta until they got legally separated.
Similar is the story of 18-year-old Chana whose nightmare started in early 2007.
A Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA) militant called Farid fell for her when he saw her grazing cattle in the Chicha area of Kishtwar district. She too was forced to marry at gun point.
'I too had dreams of getting married to a well-to-do person with all the rituals,' said Chana. 'But in forced marriages like ours it is just a couple of militants and a maulvi who form the marriage gathering.'
A few months later, a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant, Khalid , operating in the area, wanted to marry Chana and asked Farid to divorce her. But when Farid declined, the LeT militant shot him dead and also shot Chana in the left leg.
She was forced to marry Khalid and now lives with him along with her and Farid's infant son.

--Courtesy: IANS Service

Monday, June 15, 2009

Obituary-Dr.Jagat Mohini Thusu-Florence Nightangle of Kashmir

Dr. Jagat Mohini Thussu, a true rattan of Rattan Rani hospital and Kashmir
by Dr. Navin Atal and Neera Goyal

We lost a great soldier of Kashmir valley, a woman who towered like a giant in the valley for the last seventy years of Kashmir history. The noble lady left us on the early morning of 14th June 2009 at the age of about eighty eight years, after bravely battling her ailments for more than a year. She sought the love of her fellow people till the very end, the fellow Kashmiri people, whom she once served with all her passion.
Dr. Jagat Mohini, who had her roots in Punjab , did her M.B.B.S from King Edward Medical College , Lahore . She came to Kashmir in 1945 as a young bride and a young lady doctor, in a culture different from hers. She settled down quickly and adopted the Kashmiri culture to become an integral part of it. Since then she dedicated her entire life to the service of the people of Kashmir valley. She and her husband, late Dr. Onkar Nath Thussu, a renowned Pathologist, started the Rattan Rani Hospital at Barbarshah, Srinagar , named in memory of Dr. Onkar Nath’s late first wife. It was the very first hospital of Kashmir based on modern treatment and is now a century old heritage site. Dr. Jagat Mohini’s battle for upliftment of the society was fought for the last seventy years or so from Rattan Rani Hospital with her field of operation being the Kashmir valley.
Dr. Jagat Mohini worked selflessly for people of Kashmir at a time when there were very few doctors and hardly any specialist. She treated all types of patients and battled all diseases deftly, but the most important contribution to the society has been the upliftment of women of Kashmir valley. She was a champion of fighting issues of women, like discrimination, violence, dowry, health issues of women etc. She was widely known for her generosity and charity.
She not only treated them medically, but also put a healing touch to their socioeconomic ailments also. She became a champion to the cause of women of the valley. She worked day and night her entire life, sleeping just four hours in a day, totally dedicated to her profession. She saved, treated and cured countless patients. As time passed, people looked up to her, as a mentor, guardian and a saviour. She earned the nickname, “Mummy” from her staff and all her patients. She was literally a mother to all as she brought endless many to this world as a gynecologist. She is truly the “Florence Nightingale” of Kashmir , or the “Mother Teresa” of the valley. The national newspaper “The Hindustan Times” wrote on its front page an article of her achievements and it was titled as “the supermom of Kashmir ”. Her work was also recognized and complimented by many other national papers.
She worked as a social reformer and a philanthropist, doing a lot of charity work without looking for any reward. She was a social worker who fought all evils of society and became a source of inspiration to many. She was instrumental in providing employment to many people, both directly in the hospital, as well as by opening vocational centres of training in occupations like stitching, sewing and knitting, including Pashmina shawls making. A multi-talented women, she used her knowledge of stitching, sewing, and knitting to open centers to train women from the weaker sections of society so that they could live a life of dignity. The vocational training camps and centers started and run by her provided a source of livelihood to countless women in Kashmir . She was successfully running a Nursing school which enrolled many students from many parts of the country and again provided a source of livelihood to women of the state and other parts of the country.
A bold upright woman, she stood for justice and never wavered inspite of all odds. Whenever and wherever a person needed help, she was there for them. She opened a school, “Viswa Bharati” which from a two room set up became a college, later having a branch in NOIDA near Delhi . She had the foresight to acquire land for the school at NOIDA and then converted it into a successful school. She organized and conducted health camps in and around the city for the benefit of poor and needy people of the state.
She was a brave and fearless soul, who never deserted the people of the valley in all times. She stood tall and courageously faced both the good and bad times of the valley. A simple and good human being, she never faltered to help a fellow Kashmiri.
Dr.Jagat Mohini has given her entire life to Kashmir . Now it is for the people of Kashmir to see how they can repay a small part of good she has done to the valley. It is time to repay her debt by carrying on her legacy for the betterment of the valley.
Mrs. Thussu was predeceased by her husband, Dr. Onkar Nath Thussu, daughter, Seema Thussu, and brothers Anand Kumar Atal and Dr. Pushkar Rattan Atal, brother in law Janki Nath Kaul, and nephew Vimal, brother in laws and sister in laws Hriday Nath and Prabha Thussu, Pushkar Nath and Kamla Thussu, Kameshwar Nath Thussu, Raj Dulari Thussu, Prithvi Nath Coraji, and Radhakishen and Uma Raina.
Her survivors include her son Ashok and daughter in law Promila, granddaughters Vidisha and Nisha and their families, sister Manmohini Kaul, brother Dr. Chand Kumar Atal and sister in law Saroj, brother Jagdish Ratna Atal and sister in law Sheila, and sister in laws Rekha Atal and Indira Atal, brother in laws Rajinder Nath Thussu and Janki Nath Chaku, and sister in laws Kaushalya Chaku and Lalita Thussu, and the extended families. She is also survived by the following nephews and nieces, and their families on the Atal side: Gitanjali, Urvashi, Manjula, Neelima, Neera, Navin, Anuradha, Ritu, Nidhi, and Subodh and the family of Vimal, and those on Dr. Onkar Nath Thussu’s side, with extended families: Sheela, Surender, Kuldeep, Priti, Iqbal, Usha, Kanwar, Kamlesh, Sudhir, Rita, Nancy, Satish, Shami, Bittie, Girija, Nirmala and Suresh.