From Delhi to Lakhanpur: The Unending Agony of Kashmiri ‘SOS’ Girls

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These girls had earlier appealed officials for immediate evacuation from their Delhi hostel. “We don’t have anyone here,” they said. “Please evacuate us.”

Jyotsna Bharti

New Delhi: Seven stranded Kashmiri girls who earlier posted a SOS-video on social media for evacuation from their Delhi hostel have now landed themselves in another trouble after they were stopped at Lakhanpur area of Jammu for “violating the SOP” on their way to home.

The fretful girls told Kashmir Observer from Lakhanpur border that they had left for home on Thursday morning and were cut short after their bus reached the gateway of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday afternoon. Citing the security concerns, the girls didn’t share further details and cut the call.

Earlier, in the video, these girls had appealed UT officials for immediate evacuation, saying, “We don’t have anyone here. Please evacuate us. We are running out ration and can’t afford rent as demanded by our landlord.”

These girls were evacuated from their hostel by a person named Aslam Chaudhry.

“After I watched their video, I approached them and gave them foods and medicines as their hostel owner was very cruel and inhuman to them,” Aslam told Kashmir Observer over phone from Delhi.

“I offered them my house to stay with my family during the holy month of Ramzan,” he added. “But all they asked me to evacuate them.”

Aslam said that he wasn’t allowed to enter the hostel area because of his “Muslim identity”. “But somehow I managed to get through and helped them,” he said.

Earlier, many videos went viral on social media where Muslim vegetable vendors and hawkers were barred from entering the Hindu-dominated neighbourhoods in Delhi.

After Aslam, the girls were contacted by the team of Shakeel-ur-Rahman, a social activist. Rehman, Aslam said, was set in motion by ex-J&K minister Altaf Bukhari and Assam MP Badruddin Ajmal.

“The girls were helped by the ex-minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Altaf Bukhari, who promised to take them home after securing their valid travel passes,” Aslam said.

The distressed girls had accepted the help and left Delhi on Thursday morning at 8:30 am in a tourist van.

“Before leaving, I went to say goodbye to them, and gave them food and water,” Aslam, who’s in constant contact with girls, said.

“But alas,” he added, “they have been stopped at Lakhanpur border today. They weren’t treated well for posting their video on the internet and have been made to sit in the van.”

When contacted, Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner, PK Pole told Kashmir Observer that the girls have “violated the SOP” by not informing the designated nodal officer about their homecoming.

“And now, they have to spend 21 days in quarantine,” DivCom Pole said.

On Thursday, as #BringThemHome campaign overtook social media, the Jammu and Kashmir government issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for regulating the movement of stranded residents of J&K from outside the Union Territory.

As per the order the government has nominated Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary, Home, government of Jammu and Kashmir as the Nodal Officer for the movement of stranded persons and he shall coordinate with nodal officers of other states.

“All inward and outward movement will be undertaken only with the prior permission of the Nodal Officer of J&K or those designated by him. Any person arriving at borders without permission of the Nodal Officer will be put under administrative quarantine for 21 days at Lakhanpur,” reads the order.

Apparently, both Aslam Chaudhry and Altaf Bukhari-led help group have failed to take the UT officials in confidence and ended up landing these girls into another agonizing period.

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Jyotsna Bharti

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