PoK women demand right to travel across LoC

Government should deport us if it does not accept us, they say

Days after the J&K administration disallowed women from the PoK to meet visiting foreign envoys, they held a protest march in Srinagar on Tuesday demanding travel documents to meet their relatives across the Line of Control (LoC).

Dozens of women assembled at the Press Enclave and marched up to Ghanta Ghar in Srinagar and demanded citizenship and the right to travel across the LoC.

“We have not committed any crime by marrying a Kashmiri [in PoK during their stay]. These Kashmiris are citizens of India. We are just demanding equal rights,” Saira, one of the protesters, said.

Most of the women, many of whom are divorcees now, are not allowed to return to PoK.

“The government should deport us if it does not accept us. We just demand travel documents so that we can visit our homes,” said another bride from PoK.

“Adnan Swami [from Pakistan] was granted citizenship. Sania Mirza [from India] is married to a Pakistani cricketer and is a Pakistani national. But she continues to represent India. Unfortunately, we are being treated like terrorists,” she said.

They said many of their relatives have died since they came to Kashmir but were not allowed “to participate in their funerals”.

Toiba, another protester, said they have been left without any identity. “We have no ration cards, no schools to admit our children.”

According to the official figures, around 150 brides from PoK moved to Kashmir along with ex-militant husbands after the rollout of the 2010 rehabilitation policy. Official figures suggest that around 212 people returned through Nepal and other routes between 2010 and 2012, against 219 cases approved after security clearance.

A J&K High Court judgment, issued in 1971 in the Mohsin Shah case, had observed that no deportation exercise could take place for such couples because “one person had merely travelled from one part of India to another”.

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