Near Line of Control, widows' tears flow endlessly

Life in this village lives up to its name, for dard means pain

Located close to the Line of Control, this sleepy hamlet in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district is as remote as it is backward. The village has only seen killings and destruction in the last 22 years and has around 250 widows most of whom lost their loved ones due to the Kashmir conflict.

Located 120 km from Srinagar, life in this village lives up to its name, for ‘dard’ means pain and ‘pora,’ a hamlet.

The village was once considered the hub of militancy but today, it yearns for peace. “We want peace with dignity,” the villagers said.

The Dardpora widows complained that so many NGOs came here and promised that they would help them. “But their help only remained upto taking our photographs and recording our statements foe their research projects. We are used as tools by them,” they complained.

“When militancy broke out in Kashmir in 1990, it came as doom for this village. This earth is filled with the blood of hundreds of people,” Ghulam Rasool Mir, a retired school teacher, told Deccan Herald.

Recounting the deadly days of insurgency, Mir said “out of almost 1,000 households here, as many as 300 families have lost their loved ones in the conflict.”

While the majority of them were militants killed in encounters with the Army, the remaining were killed by militants, either in inter-group clashes or after being branded as informants for the security forces.

As Dardpora is the last village along LoC, Mir said, militants used to cross the border for arms training through this area. “With this, locals from this village too got involved, with some straightaway joining the militant ranks and others acting as guides to facilitate the cross-over.”

Gul Jane is one among hundreds of widows who is striving to fend her children after her husband Peer Khan, a militant, was killed by the Army in 1992 in an encounter.

“My husband crossed the LoC in 1990 and for two years, he didn’t come back to home. One day in 1994, I heard that the Army in an encounter has killed him and with that my world was lost. I have two daughters and a son and all of them were kids then,” she said.

Survival by alms

Losing the lone breadwinner forced threw the family to the roads. “My children left studies and I had to beg to feed them... I have brought up my children by begging,” Jane said and broke down.

Her two daughters have now grown up and are of marriageable age. However, the old widow doesn’t have resources to perform the marriages.

“We have been left at the mercy of Allah by everybody. The government is punishing us as my husband was a militant. Hurriyat leaders never bothered to visit us and see our plight,” she said.

Gul Jane’s story is not an isolated case. Jannati, 48, has seven children, five of them daughters. Her husband, Mohammed Sadiq Mir, a militant, was killed in 1994 by the Army.
Jannati relies on menial jobs and help from her neighbours to feed her family. Like Gul Jane, she too has no resources to marry off her daughters.

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