Dardpora: The Village of Widows

Posted on February 5, 2010 in Society

Avnish Gaurav:

Widows of kashmir are our subject of concern in the second part of the series Roaring Bullets And The Eerie Silence.

Photo khechne aatey hai yeh log. Hamari lachari ka mazak banaya hai. Photo bech ke, khud paisa kamatey hain (These people photograph us and sell them for a profit. They are mocking our misfortune), accused Begum Khatana, a Gujjar widow with five children.

Think of a girl who takes her first step into womanhood to begin a journey of her own. Few steps down the road, she is jolted by the murder of her husband by the hands of the militants. Well-being of her son, his support and everything else related to him is now her aim. Few years later he is detained by army for his alleged links with terrorists. All is lost for her, yet she gathers her life out of the ashes and walks on when she is intervened by social miscreants.

This has become a part of the day to day life in Dardpora, a border village in Kashmir. Dardpora cannot have a better name. Translated into English, ‘Dard’ means pain and ‘Pora’ the abode… thereby meaning “abode of pain”. For the sheer number of widows, Dardpora is at times referred to as the ‘village of widows’. The village has about 300 orphans and 122 widows. Dozens of orphaned girls are aged 30 years or more and are waiting for grooms, but nobody is ready to marry these helpless girls. They live in pathetic conditions and if immediate steps are not taken, it’ll bring a catastrophe. Families whose members are killed by armed forces under the pretext of being militants are dubbed untouchables and what follows next is quite thinkable. Dardpora is without electricity, proper water supply and has only one middle school.

This village has almost become like a laboratory where people from within & outside the state keep pouring in for various research and survey work. They make tall promises but to this day, the villagers say, they never came back after their research was over. The villagers are so wary of outsiders that they do not trust them and do not want to talk about themselves.

Deaf and dumb Zaytoon’s story is a story of pain and anguish. Her husband Samad Khan died in Aug 2003 and has left behind three children, two daughters, Shakeela 11 years old, Parveena 3 and Farooq 5 years old. Shakeela, the eldest holding her siblings in her lap says, “my father died due to the incessant torture by army, every time he was arrested, he was tortured brutally and one day he turned insane, and finally, he died.” Death may have relieved Samad from pain but his family, wife and three children, continue to live and suffer, Zaytoon begs for a living. The upper (Pahari) Dardpora inhabitants claim their ancestors of Pakistani origin had migrated here for greener pastures for their cattle. But the grass is not always green on the other side of the fence and the progeny of Pahari Dardpora seem to have learnt it the hard way.

The village is too poor to help its widows and the large number of widows scares away those who come to help.

What shall we expect in a village, where live hundreds of widows and orphans almost double their number? Yeah it is Dardpora, the name itself conveying the meaning. Everywhere, there is pain & grief. The unending saga of tails of woe has no panacea.

It is said:

A Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World

But Dardpora seems to be a world different from the rest.

The writer is a Special Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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Arun Sharma

Hi Avnish, it’s really touching to know that even in 21st century, we have these kind of villages earmarked for widows and orphans. It seems that you’ve visited the village and talked to them from close. Can you suggest something that we can do to make them feel better? Or is there anyway we can help to provide them some basic amenities?

avnish

really appreciate your attitude..actually the situation there is so complex that many aid agencies had to withdraw.Security concerns,increased government interference etc make matters worse.It is difficult to set up an instutionalised machinery for aid purpose.One of the imperative steps can be the adoption policy where in individual victims are financially helped by outsiders through some proper channel.

Abhishek

A nicely written article on a sensitive issue.. Its really disheartening to see the plight of these women..
However, after pondering over the problem for some time, I could not think of a single solution..
In reply to the first comment, you are suggesting the “adoption policy”.. This indeed is a nice vision.. But in my opinion, this could hardly materialize taking into consideration the attitude of the Politico-Bureaucratic machinery..
You can never have a good society where the polity is in bad shape…
It might sound a bit pessimistic, but that’s how things are….

Arslan

@Avinish:

I agree with the millitant killing part?
but why havent you mentioned the killing of males and burying them in the army camp compounds by the troops?

also why have you not mentioned why the girls are getting no grooms in this particular village? why havent you told the world how the army men ransacked into houses while the males were taken out in a crack-down, n the former were raped, ageing 8-85?

please cover the complete story, this is sheer lack of professionalism.

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