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Kashmir: A State Overloaded With Orphans And Half Orphans

By Jaffer Latief Najar

26 July, 2013
Countercurrents.org

In an humanistic expansion formula, society is the preponderant parameter that germinate
the human values, beliefs and their acceptance. The stakeholders of humankind are the pillars upon
which society thrive its existence and children are the base in this construction. Further, in an
attempt to educe a just and equitable future, one has to start with its base. That, infact, reflects the
role of children in the futurity of society, state and its development.

Jammu and Kashmir, famously known as Kashmir, a state once acknowledged as Paradise,
has transited its history of picturesque and now is a haven of disappeared, raped, stone pelting
young bloods, mass graves, half widows and indeed, a playground of orphans and ‘half orphans’.
Half orphans in Kashmir, often, refers to those children whom parents (mostly father) have been
disappeared during the saga of political struggle akin to half widows and are living their life in a
twilight zone. They can not be pronounced as orphans since they are still unaware that whether their
parent is alive or not (Mirani 2007).

Furthermore, considering the principles enunciated in United Nations (UN) Charter and
recognising the inherent dignity, equalable and inalienable rights of all members of human family,
the UN covention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC) has obligated state parties to take all appropriate
measures to promote physical, psychological, social reintegration of a child who are victim in any
form of neglect, exploitation, torture as well as of ‘Armed conflict’ and such measures shall be taken
in an environment that ensure the health, self respect and dignity of a child (1989, Article 39).
Moreover, the Part IV, Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) in the Constitution of Jammu
and Kashmir whilst taking these principles as fundamental in the governance and delineating it as
state’s duty to apply these principles to make laws, has stated state’s responsiblity to secure and
ensure all the children, the right to have a happy childhood with an adequate medical care and an
attention ( 2003, Article 21).

However, one can argue, after such lawful aspects and other similar Acts and ordinances,
that it is the state, that plays imperative role in shaping the conflict zone into peace and prosperity
and truly, taking care of children in such zones. Since 1947, Kashmir is the one of the ineluctable
conflict areas between the three nuclear powers. The part of India Administered Kashmir, after 90s
is witnessing a large political and armed struggle where people have their concern for their right to
self determination. However, children always have less role in such struggle but they are the utmost
sufferer of such situations and the state must have to obligate itself for their proper care and
attention both morally as well as legally as stated earlier.

But, Kashmir has different history and figures. Along with killings of near one hundred thousand civilians,8000 disappearances, Ironically, Kashmir has been overloaded by orphans and half orphans.

According to a report, around 600000 children are orphans in the state (1). Which is, in fact, more than the population of states like Luxemburg and Maldives. The failure of state has forced 80% of orphans in the valley to quit their studies after matriculation due to extreme poverty, family pressure
and lack of quality education in charitable orphanages (2) . The increasing depression has led 55.3 %
children under extreme depressing conditions whereas 54.25 % can’t sleep properly. Moreover, only
poverty and depression is not only concern. The children are also used as “Human Shield” in
encounter and search operations of security forces (3).

Moreover, one of the objectives as mentioned in Result Framework Document (2012-2013) for social welfare department of Jammu and Kashmir government affirms the establishment of residential facilities for orphans in the form of Bal Ashrams (2013: 2). But, the social welfare department’s website has averred the establishment of a
few Bal Ashrams only in Jammu province having maximum numbers in Rajouri District. That, in
fact, raised a question mark about these residential facilities in Kashmir valley where maximum of
these orphans are present. Also, as mentioned in National Commission for Protection of Child
Rights Report, those childen living near Line of Control in border districts like Rajouri and Poonch
are also the victims of ‘mine blast’ where they are getting seriously injured or indeed, losing their
lives and there is no social security schemes provided to them by the state (2012: 9).

The principal debate focussing the negligence of these orphans revolve around the social,
political and vested will. Since these orphans/children have no role in the political game play, they
are not bothered much by mainstream political leaders and parties. On the other side, without
having proper regulatory mechanism and watch (both socially and legally), a few vested people
have made it an industy of about 120 crores in term of charity outfits (4). Many years are going to
pass, but, the Kashmir is still thinking to initiate Integrated Child Protection Schemes and
establishment of ‘ State Child Commision for Protection of Child Rights’. It, in fact, reveal that all
the laws and international conventions can not be effectuated until the state power allows them.
A zone of world’s largest military presence slapped by draconian laws, impunities and
fenced by mines across its boundaries, need a proper and special intervention to take care of its
children by all of its stake holders. These orphans/ children are also in quest of ‘Azaadi’. An azaadi
(freedom) to have quality education, access to their dreams, from poverty, from discrimination,
from alienation, to have a dignified and peaceful life, to live life without fear and depression, to take
part in leisure activities, to decide about their future and an ‘Azadi’ from innocent killings and
disappearances of their birth givers whom they need the most at this age.

Children are like dividends that are returns to its stakeholders in future. Its an investment in
building the edifice of humanity. If not properly invested and taken care, they, perhaps, will give
bad results and losses. The use of Public Safety Act to arrest hundered children, imposing days
curfew, huge presence of military with impunity, impotent Juvenile Justice laws and the increasing
phenomenon of disappearances is not a good investment. It has deterioated and will further currupt
the system. Then, the most sufferer of this currupt and opressive system will again be none than the
children of Kashmir and then we will have more figures of such orphans and killings.
Mahatama Gandhi once said, “ if we are to teach real peace in this world, we shall have to
begin with the children”. Indeed, present intervention for welfare of orphans in Kashmir require an
immediate need to oblige UN Human Rights laws, UNCRC and to focus on its DPSP in making and
amending laws by the state. The establishment of State Child Commission for Protection of Child
Rights, if implemented properly, can be proved as a good asset in protecting child rights and
ensuring child development.

However, conclusions and arguements can be many. But, the principle debate should be to
think and work for children especially orphans and half orphans in Kashmir alongwith the people’s
different aspirations. In solidarity with the child girl who was holding a placard saying ‘I want to go
to school with my father’, in a recent protest against enforced disappearances and in solidarity with
lacs of orphans and half orphans, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are clamouring intervention
and have louded their voices that the state has been overloaded by orphans and half orphans. So, no
more please!

Jaffer Latief Najar, Student, Centre for Community Organisation and Development Practices,
School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

1 “Ignored Orphans of J&K”, Kashmir times, May 2013, Available at :
http://www.kashmirtimes.com/newsdet.aspx?q=17032

2 “Kashmir’s 80% orphans drop out after high school”, Rising Kashmir, 19 January 2013, Available at:
http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/kashmirs-80-orphans-drop-out-after-high-school-40256.aspx

3 “Orphans of Jammu and Kashmir Await Justice”, Counter Currents.org, 19 july 2007, Available at:
http://www.countercurrents.org/hashmi191107.htm

4 “ The Orphan Industry”, Tehelka, 4 May 2013, Available at:http://tehelka.com/the-orphan-industry/

References:

Convention on Rights of Child (1989), Available at: www.unesco.org/education/pdf/CHILD_E.PDF

Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir., 2003 [Online] Available at: http://jkgad.nic.in/statutory/Rules-
Costitution-of-J&K.pdf

J&K Department of Social Welfare’s website, Available at: http://jksocialwelfare.nic.in/inst.aspx. Accessed
on 25 May 2013

Mirani, H.,2007 Half Orphans of Kashmir waiting for the fuller life. Children Right and You Report [Online] Available at: http://www.cry.org/resources/pdf/NCRRF/Haroon_Mirani_2007_Report.pdf

Report on Visit to Kashmir Region of Jammu and Kashmir., 2012, National Commision for Protection of
Child Rights [online] Available at: http://www.ncpcr.gov.in/Reports/Kashmir%20Report%20final.pdf

Result Framework Document for Department of Social Work., 2013 [Online] Available at:
http://jksocialwelfare.nic.in/social%20%20welfare%20RFD%20for%202012-13%20.pdf

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