Srinagar, Oct 15: Eighty-year-old Zeba Begum wants a passport. Not to top her life with a world tour, but to ensure that her son bears her coffin. The government here has little patience for such frivolous desires.
This frail and feeble woman lives alone in her Wayuspora home in Magam on the outskirts of the northern Handwara town her husband has passed away, and her only son lives with his family across the LoC where he had gone to train as a militant 23 years ago.
She has not seen him since.
On the mercy of her relatives, Zeba is among the countless victims of the artificial divide across Kashmir separating parents from children, and brothers from sisters – families torn apart by politics, conflict and circumstance.
Suffering silently for decades, an overwhelming majority of such families have yet to be succoured by the hyped Indo-Pak decision to allow travel between the two parts of Kashmir.
The highly restricted nature of the process, and the long procedures involved have allowed reunions of only a small percentage of these homes.
Besides, Zebas son had gone to become a militant, a big disqualification for the entire clan of his like, even if Abdul Ahad Mir has long said goodbye to militancy, married, fathered children, and earns a living to support them as an ordinary person.
I do not want to go across the LoC to pick up a gun, Zeba says, reposing hope in chief minister Omar Abdullahs oft-repeated assertion that militants kin should not be denied passports.
I only want to die where Abdul Ahad can shoulder my bier, she says.
So far, this weak and impoverished woman has made two bids for a passport.
The last time she had been able to gain an audience with the inspector general of the police for Kashmir who, she says, had assured that her application would be cleared.
But down the years, her pleas and the authorities promises have been forgotten. And the chief ministers exhortations fallen on deaf ears.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.