‘Signature campaign about their plight started’
Srinagar, Nov 30: The Ulemas representing different schools of thought and prominent civil society members Thursday held a consultative meeting on the property rights of half-widows.
The meeting was organised by a civil society group, Ehsaas.
The programme started with the Quranic recitation by Mujahid Shabir Falahi of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) Jammu and Kashmir.
Former Vice Chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Sidiq Wahid presided over the first session while the second session was presided over by Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), Parveena Ahanger. In his introductory remarks, Ehsaas President, Bashir Ahmad Dar said precious lives had been lost in the State since 1947 and women had been the worse-affected lot.
He said nothing was known about the whereabouts of over 8000 men subjected to enforced disappearances, according to the figures provided by the APDP.
Dar said the situation of women left half-widowed was very bad.
The Ehsaas President said one of the issues was about their remarriage and the other about their property rights.
Dar said after talking to Ulemas from different Fiqhs on the issues of remarriage and property rights of the half-widows, the general consensus was that ideally for property the disappeared persons should be considered alive and for remarriage considered dead.
Television producer, Shahid Shabir read out the memorandum prepared by Ehsaas to the participants and sought amendments.
Speaking on the occasion, human rights defender and Convenor of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Khurram Parvez said as per their survey done in 2006, there were around 1500 half-widows.
He said most of them do not want to marry and that marriage should not be thrust upon them.
Parvez said the government should not be given a right to interfere in the Muslim Personal Law relating to inheritance and added that the exgratia relief the government was providing was not compensation for the loss suffered by the half-widows.
Senior journalist, Zahir-ud-Din said it was an irony that a half-widow seeking an exgratia relief had to first accept the killing of her husband in a cross-fire, and submit it in an affidavit.
He said in many cases, even their parents did transfer them the property that was due to them.
Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM) chairperson, Anjum Zamruda Habib said there was a need to share the pain of half-widows.
Calling for aggregation of data about half-widows, she said their issues were nearer to the hearts of the people of Kashmir and their pain touched their hearts.
Civil society member, Shakeel Qalander said there was a need to think an out-of-box solution to help the half-widows come out of their misery.
He called for starting a pilot project where these half-widows could be helped in a dignified manner.
Former television producer, Mushtaq Ahmad Tantray sought to know whether there was a need and necessity to approach the state on the issue of half-widows.
Mufti Azam Jamiat Ahli-Hadees, Mufti Muhammad Yaqoob Baba Al Madani said Islam laid a complete blueprint for addressing such issues but the problem existed in the society.
He said the rights of half-widows and orphans needed to be protected at all costs.
Jamiat Ahli Hadees organizer, Shafaat Ahmad Farooqui said the organisation had been working on the issue of half-widows for a long time and that there was a need to do more.
Mujahid Shabir Falahi said no one wins from courts as by the time the case is resolved, the victim has had to pay a lot.
Calling for more awareness on the issue, he said the grandfathers and uncles of children whose fathers had been subjected to enforced disappearance should do justice to the half-widows.
Poet, writer and satirist, Zareef Ahmad Zareef said this was a human issue first than a religious issue and called upon Mohalla committees to play a role in helping the half-widows.
Patron Anjuman e Himayatul Islam, Moulana Showkat Hussain Keng said the amendments suggested by the participants would be incorporated in the memorandum.
Presiding over the second session, Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APD), Parveena Ahanger said the property issue of the half-widows was more important than their marriages.
She said even if some of these women get the exgratia relief, she only gets Rs 12,500 of the Rs 1 lakh while the children get Rs 70,000 and the parents of the disappeared persons the rest.
Ahanger said there were cases of in-laws harassing the half-widows.
Speaking on the occasion, a half-widow Safiya Azad said she had been working in a factory, a book shop and a school to educate her child.
She said her husband had sacrificed for the nation and not for self and that there was a need to help half-widows who had been left to raise three to four children on their own.
Another half-widow Shamima said she had been left to fend for her two children after her husband was subjected to enforced disappearance in year 2000.
She said she had rejected the exgratia relief offered to her and instead sought the whereabouts of her husband that to this day she did not know.
Arifat Jan said traditionally in Kashmir, the widows used to be remarried with ease but now things had started to change and called for bringing reforms.
Former Chief Information Commissioner, G R Sufi called upon the Ulemas to come forward for this cause.
He also suggested setting up a trust for half-widows to which people could donate and save their taxable amount in the process too.
Journalist Raziya Noor called for providing skill development training to the half-widows.
Affan Yesvi of the Inner Voice said there was a need to start crowd sourcing for funding the half-widows.
Others present on the occasion included author of the Jaffna Street, Indian Express photojournalist Shuaib Masoodi, Khalid Mir, Sayiqa Yousuf, Rafia, Hakim Sajad Hussain, Ruheela Hassan, Tahira Begum, Hasina Begum, Shamima Firdous, Naseema Begum, Farooq Ahmad, Shahid Nazir, Muhammad Shafat Ahmad, Abid Sofi, Muhammad Shafi Shok, Muhammad Showkat Lone and Imtiyaz Ahmad.
Senior journalist and political analyst, Gowhar Geelani moderated the programme.
Secretary Ehsaas, Ezabir Ali presented the vote of thanks.
The programme concluded with a signature campaign with the participants endorsing the memorandum.
Ehsaas, a civil society group has been working on the issues of half-widows since 2013 and has been deliberating on ways and means of providing succor to them.
The group brought together Ulemas from different schools of thought and helped in arriving at a consensus of having an Iddah period of four years for the remarriage of half-widows. (KNS)