Participants Seek Demilitarization; Revocation Of AFSPA, PSA1 October 2011
Srinagar: The participants of Intra-Kashmir Women’s Conference on Friday demanded phased demilitarization and revocation of “draconian” laws in Jammu and Kashmir. In a chat with intelligentsia and media persons at a local hotel here after holding three day Intra-LoC Women’s conference at tourist resort of Gulmarg, the women in unison demanded phased withdrawal of forces and revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act. “We demand immediate phased demilitarization in all civilian areas and repeal of draconian acts like AFSPA and PSA,” said Advocate, Narjees Nawab while quoting the resolution passed the Intra-LoC Women’s Dialogue on Women’s Role in Society: Issues of Mutual Concerns, organized by Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation in collaboration with Women for Peace here. Narjees said they also demand that resolution on Kashmir must reflect the aspirations of all regions and communities of all parts across the Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit Baltistan. Calling for easing out restrictions on both sides of LoC, she said the resolution also called for the simplification of procedures in trade, communication and travel across the LoC and opening of other trade and travel routes, like Kargil-Skardu, Chamb-Bhimbar, and Leh-Khaplu. “The cease-fire be respected with immediate halt to violations and land mine issues be addressed and immediate release and return of stray crossers,” she added. The declaration also calls for end to human rights abuses and violations of all kinds–arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, crackdowns, searches, displacement of all kinds, rehabilitation of displaced communities without segregation – by all sides. CDR Director, Sushoba Barve, said her policy group had been holding series of dialogues between stakeholders and civil society actors from the regions of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir since 2003. She said dialogue was the only way of understanding each other, addressing misperceptions, distrust and approach to explore common goals .“Our role is limited to facilitating dialogue,” she said. Ameena Ansari, a parliamentarian from Gilgit–Baltistan said they salute the mothers of Kashmir for sacrificing their children for the ongoing freedom movement. “Our sisters of this part rendered sacrifices for the freedom and we always pray for the freedom of Kashmir,” she said, adding Gilgit Baltistan was part of Kashmir. Syed Najma Shakoor whose family migrated to Pakistan Administered Kashmir from Srinagar couldn’t control her emotions. “I also came in 2007, but couldn’t locate my relatives, but today I met with all of them at Amira Kadal. I can never forget the memories of reunion,” she said, adding that people of PaK also feel the pain of the residents of this part. Prof. Rekha Choudhary of Jammu University said exclusion of women from the peace process was disturbing. “In JK women are also seen as victims of conflict, mute recipients of violence,” she said calling for representation of women in dialogue process at all levels. The resolution also calls for: the government review its policy towards the SPOs, SOGs, and VDCs; 30 % percent women’s representation in Legislative Assemblies, Councils, and local bodies on both sides of the LoC; adequate women’s representation in departments dealing with gender issues; representation of women in and the strengthening of autonomous and independent state institutions to monitor and report gender-based issues, like State Commission for Women, State Human Rights Commission, Information Commission, and the establishment of similar commissions in other regions where they do not currently exist; the establishment of legal aid committees and village helpline by the state to immediately address issues of half-widows and sexual assault; greater access to women and female education; revisiting of the curriculum.