Conflict has driven women into a state of depression

Last Updated 07 March 2019, 10:32 IST

Though they have suffered immensely at the hands of the parties involved in the conflict, they carry no apparent signs of bruised psyches or destroyed lives on their faces.

However, the tales of distress of women patients, who regularly visit Psychiatric Diseases Hospital here, reveal the extent of suppression and violence they have been subjected to in last more than two decades.

Saja Begum, a half widow from north Kashmir’s frontier district of Kupwara, visits Psychiatric Hospital in Srinagar regularly.

Her husband was allegedly subjected to forced disappearance by security forces 17 years ago.

A horseman, who used to ferry tourists in world famous tourist spot, Gulmarg, was the sole breadwinner for a family of five, including three minor daughters who are now of marriageable age.

But finding a match for them has become a Herculean task for the old lady as she doesn’t have money to spend on the marriage of her daughters.

Saja bore the brunt of the trauma.

The doctors have diagnosed her as a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patient.

“After my husband disappeared, life became an ordeal for us.

Nobody in our relation or neighbours came forward for help.

Ministers and separatists are engaged in war of words against each other but they lead a cosy and luxurious life at the cost of miseries of poor people,” Saja told Deccan Herald at the Psychiatric Hospital.

The doctors have advised her to take medicines regularly, but the destitute, at times doesn’t have enough money to buy the costly drugs.

Saja has hundreds of contemporaries in suffering.

Amina Begum whose son was killed by militants 10 years back is one among hundreds of PTSD patients in Kashmir who visit thePsychiatric Hospital regularly.

“My son was killed mercilessly by the militants in front of me.

The two militants entered our house and shot dead my son.

I don’t know how many bullets they fired at him in front of my eyes,” she told Deccan Herald.

Her other two children also saw how their brother was brutally killed. “I fainted and when I regained my consciousness, hundreds of people had gathered. Since then, every minute of my life has been an ordeal,” Amina said with tears rolling down from the sunken eyes.
Still haunts

“My other son is also suffering from depression. He faints whenever he hears gunshots or a loud voice. The incident just doesn’t get erased from our memories,” she lamented.

Halima is another patient who visits the Hospital regularly. Her husband, a militant, was killed by the Army on the Line of Control (LoC) in early 1990s when he was trying to infiltrate into the Valley after receiving arms training in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

She developed psychiatric problems after that and visits the Psychiatric Hospital regularly. She too has been diagnosed with PTSD by the doctors.

“I heard the news that my husband has been killed on the  border after several months. We couldn’t even see his body as he was reportedly buried on the border by security forces. I had his baby in my womb when my husband left home. The baby is a grown-up boy now and often asks me about his dad,” Halima said.

“Our whole family is in distress. He comes in my dreams and I see him in red sweater, which he was wearing at the time when he left the home last time,” she said amid sobs.

Statistics reveal that almost 10 per cent ofpatients treated in the OPD of the Psychiatric Hospital are being diagnosed with PTSD and other stress-related problems.

The last 24 years of conflict has precipitated a humanitarian crisis of tragic magnitude. If figures are to be believed then the loss of human lives in Kashmir during the period has been many times more than the combi­ned casualties of four wars fought bet­ween India and Pakistan in the last 67 years.

The cost has been terrible in terms of human suffering and destruction.

Kashmir’s leading Psychiatrist Dr Mushtaq Margoob told Deccan Herald that harsh realities of life are difficult to face and people aren’t able to cope with them.

“The brunt of losing their dear ones shows up on their faces. Traumatised people, especially women, continue to bear the brunt of this conflict and find they have nowhere to go to be safe,” he said.


“The traumatic experience of violence can have long-lasting and deep-rooted psychological consequences,” Dr Margoob added.

Dr Asima Hassan, who has done a research on the impact of Kashmir conflict, says in any conflict situation women always bear the brunt.

“The impact of the conflict has rendered emotional strength of women into weakness and has driven them into a constant state of depression,” she said.

“Ever-increasing number of widows has been one of the aftermath of the armed conflict in Kashmir. These widows witness worst socio-economic conditions as their only bread-earners have been either killed or injured or have mysteriously disappeared,” she added.

Majority of the widows of Kashmir conflict live a miserable life as the government and other organisations have not paid adequate attention to their problems and as a result their problems have compounded alarmingly.

(Published 26 April 2014, 18:41 IST)

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