Feel dejected and disassociated
Srinagar: Since the eruption of the ongoing crises in Indian Kashmir, praying for peace to triumph and playing cricket are the primary engagements of the handful children in Bailtul Hilal orphanage at Jawahar Nagar in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir.
Similar scene is witnessed in other orphanages in the summer capital. As the schools mostly remained close due to the strikes and incessant curfews, these orphans get ample time to share their tragic past with each other.
Fifteen year old Tahir is well aware about the Kashmir crises. He has a dream of becoming a pilot and wants to fly an airplane for his “free nation.” Tahir is not afraid of what is happening around him as he has seen violence from a very close range, the tragic memories still haunt him.
The moment his father should have been holding his finger to guide him during the times of difficulty. Tahir lost him forever. He saw him dead.
Revisiting his tragic past, he narrates in a very emotional tone about the loss of his father, who according to him was killed in an encounter between Indian Army and militants.
“I lost my biggest support, my guide when I was only three. My mother since then insisted me to study hard and become a better citizen of the nation, so that everybody feels proud of me,” says Tahir to Agence India Press.
He sighs “I am a biggest support and source of my mother now.”
The boys of Tahir’s age are mostly seen in playing fields anywhere outside Kashmir but the conflict has matured this generation beyond their age. They don’t respond childishly. As Tahir many of boys of his age say “they are witnesses to this destruction, they are the sufferers and they are the oppressed.”
Tahir believes that the children in Kashmir are the children of conflict and they should be treated keeping their sufferings in view.
“We are being treated like animals in Kashmir, who cares for us. Forces have been given free hand to finish the young generation here,” says Tahir holding a cricket bat in his right hand.
There are many other boys who share similar fate and stories. Their tragic past has confined them to orphan homes in different places of the valley.
Two decade old turmoil has ruined the Kashmir and has turned the valley in the land of widows and orphans. With each passing day the number of orphans and widows in the valley increase.
Tahir rarely visits his home in Doda in Jammu province. He says his mother has weaved a dream to see him as a pilot. “I am working for a bigger goal. I want to fulfill all my mother’s dreams. I want to become a pilot.”
Twenty years of conflict and turbulence have led to a disturbing situation in the Indian Kashmir. Thousands of women have lost their husbands. Many women have become half widows – their husbands have either gone missing in custody or have disappeared. Alongside, a huge number of orphans have been created and the rehabilitation of these vulnerable children is a big challenge for society.
Relatives of orphans tend to get them registered in various orphanages thinking that their responsibility is now over and the onus of nurturing these hapless children lies in the hands of caretakers at the orphanages.
He told Agence India Press that, I sometime feel dejected and disassociated from my society.
The Chief Minister of Indian Kashmir Omar Abdullah recently released a document that spells out specific quality standards fewer than 15 categories for orphanages in Kashmir Valley. Developed by the Department of Social Welfare with support from Save the Children, the document aims to cover every sphere of activity in orphanages. But very less is being executed on the ground.
The valley has been on boil. More than four month s long unrest in the valley has left 111 civilians dead at the hands of Indian forces. Moreover the incessant curfews and restrictions across the valley have made people to remain confined to their homes. Omar Abdulla led coalition government has failed to reach out to the angry youth and same has been delivered from New Delhi.
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