Peace: Craves This Scarred Valley Family
24 November 2004
The Indian Express
Sheikhpora: The anguish of violence is writ large on the face of Mohammad Yousuf. The thought of having buried 17 members of his family who were all gulped by violence, still haunts Yousaf, a resident of Sheikhpora- a sleepy Valley village. And added to that, he now being the only male member left in the family, has to fend for the remaining over dozen children and six widows. Each and every member of this family understands the importance of peace and they all pin their hopes on the recent visit of Pakistan's prime minister Showket Aziz to India to bring to an end the long standing Indo -Pak fiasco. Not only this they also feel that the visit is the best time to resolve all pending disputes and start building relations afresh between the two nations. 'My all close relatives are burried at different places around Ganderbal. Nobody, from government or any NGO's came to our rescue or lend a helping hand. I was left alone to face the hardships of the world. Now, I am alone left to fend for six widows and more than 12 minors. I used to be youngest in my family, now I am the oldest,' says Yosuf. 'My father, three brothers, two brother in-laws, a sister in law and their children were killed from time to time. They all became victims of violence. What happened to our family should never happen with other families living across the Valley.I wish and pray that both India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir dispute and this is an appropriate time as both neighbouring nations are coming closer with their leaders meeting each other. Pakistan is showing flexibility, India should also respond in a positive way. Unless peace returns to Kashmir, God know's how many more families will have to pay the price of violence,' he adds. Yousaf further said only economic packages and development works are not sufficent for restoration of normalcy and peace. Political parleys and dialogue are also needed, he adds. Yosuf might be brave enough to face the hard realities of life. But his old ailing mother, Haja has not been able to come to terms with turmoil, which has devastated her family. One by one killings of her family members and sight of coffins of her sons, grand sons and other relatives has turned her completely insane. ' Nobody, came to help us. Can you give me some money to support my family and young children,' pleads the old lady. Like Yosuf, his sister in law Zamrooda also craves for peace and end to violence. 'My husband was among 17 members of our family, who have gunned down. Many a times, state and central governments have announced packages for the victims of violence, but not a single penny has reached to us. We don't want money now, the biggest consulation for our family will be restoration of peace and end to the violence. I know how hard is life without a partner and no women in her life should pass through this trauma, she prays.