(Jammu and Kashmir): Whenever a postman enters this
village in Kupwara district of Kashmir, Jameela Rayees cannot stop
herself from rushing to the door in anticipation. What she is
waiting for is her passport, so that she can go to Pakistan and
look for her husband Shakir.
Shakir Ahmad Rayees fled to Pakistan along with a group of people
in 1995 when militancy broke out in the state.
"I want to meet Shakir once before my eyes close forever," Jameela,
42, told this correspondent.
The last time she saw her husband was in 2004, some months after
India and Pakistan agreed on a ceasefire along the border. People
from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) were allowed to
assemble on either banks of the Kishenganga river, from where they
could see their separated loved ones and even toss gifts across
"I saw him in 2004 when he came on to the bank of the river. I
burst into tears. He too was crying. I pleaded with him to come
back home," she remembers.
The facility was withdrawn by the two governments in 2009, and
Jameela has no information about Shakir's whereabouts ever since.
Her fate is similar to many in the state -- where passports are
denied due to unsatisfactory security credentials.
According to a media report, around 3,000-3,500 Kashmiris are
living in Pakistan- administered Kashmir and Pakistan after
crossing over from Jammu and Kashmir. Police, however, were unable
to give any such data.
Jameela's passport application has been rejected four times as the
police verification report mentions that her husband and some
other relatives have migrated to Pakistan.
"I am illiterate and don't have any political approach," Jameela
lamented to IANS.
Remembering her old days, Jameela said: "My marriage with Shakir
was solemnised in 1988. But then militancy broke out and our lives
were disrupted, perhaps forever. I don't even know why he fled to
Pakistan...perhaps he wanted to return after some time, but
Life is tough for Jameela and her two kids Yasmeena and Tamheed,
who study in Class 12 and 10 respectively.
Yasmeena was just 18 months old when Shakir left. Tamheed was
expected. Jameela says she is at a loss for words whenever her
children ask about their father.
"Whenever they ask about their father, I tell them that he will
come the next day and they would easily believe me. Each day they
await their father and each day they are disappointed. This has
become a schedule for them.
"Whenever they are sad, they tell me - 'If abbu was here, all our
problems would be solved and he would care for us'," Jameela
She said her in-laws care about her and the kids a lot, but
Shakir's absence during festivals and social gatherings is still
"If it is written in my fate that I will meet my husband, then
nothing can stop it, even these borders...," she added.
The government has undertaken a rehabilitation policy for
Kashmiris who had crossed over down the years and would now like
Jameela's case is typical of how political divides have sundered
the lives of ordinary families. Kashmir has been in the throes of
a bloody insurgency since 1989. While things have calmed down to a
great extent, people like Jameela continue to feel a vacuum in
their lives to this day.
Islam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)