By Humra Quraishi
WeNews, December 26, 2011
"Parveena Ahangar hasn't known peace for years. 'I can't describe how each day passes. I keep taking medicines every single day to control my tension. At night, I'm awake. I just can't sleep,' Ahangar says. She's felt this way, she says, ever since the day 21 years ago when she lost her son. 'My teenaged son, Javed, was picked by the security agencies in 1990,' she says. 'Security men came to our Batmaloo home to pick him up, saying they were taking him for interrogation. We pleaded with them, saying he couldn't have done anything wrong, that he had just passed his matriculation. But they didn't listen and took him to the interrogation center at Pari Mahal. We never saw him again.' Ahangar's husband fell ill because of the trauma, and gave up working. He remains in poor health today. Ahangar lives in the India-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir in the north of the country, near the borders of Pakistan and China, an area plagued by territorial strife and tensions. She has scoured the Kashmir Valley for news of her son. She has visited jails through the region. She has approached the United Nations. 'I've appealed to every possible government authority, to politicians across party lines.' Many other women in the Kashmir Valley recount similar stories. They say they've sold land, homes, jewelry; exhausted every asset in the search for their children. ...
Ahangar began her organization after a small group of parents, all of whom had undergone the trauma of having their children taken away from them and then found missing, came together. Support has been building. This year, she was nominated for the Frontline Human Rights Defenders Award 2011. Civil libertarians in India are aiding her efforts. A prominent academic, Uma Chakravarti, has formed a support group for the APDP in New Delhi. The once-tiny group now has offices in almost all districts of the Kashmir Valley. Ahangar says it's difficult to keep count of the members. She is currently trying to prosecute security forces for the disappearance of her son through a lawsuit in the High Court with a prominent lawyer, Zafar Shah, volunteering to represent her. 'I could not have afforded a lawyer,' says Ahangar. 'Fortunately for me, Zafar sahib is not charging me. In fact, there are many lawyers in the state who have taken up the cases of missing children without charging a paisa (a cent) because they realize that we are not in a position to pay and the issue is a crucial one that needs to be redressed. It is an outrage that while we continue to suffer, those responsible for the crime have not been booked and are, in fact, roaming about freely.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Ron Henry for bringing this source to my attention.]