When seven Kashmiri women boarded a bus from Delhi Thursday to return to their families, they heaved a sigh of relief because home wasn’t too far anymore.
Little did they know that this joy will be short-lived as they were stopped at the Lakhanpur border in Jammu by the Jammu & Kashmir police on Friday morning..
Till late Friday night, the women — who were preparing for competitive exams, and stayed at a paying guest accommodation in South Delhi’s Hauz Khas — were stranded outside a police station, with nowhere to go.
“The driver too has left. We are on the road. My parents are more worried for us, and we only have food to last us till tonight,” said Asmat Rashid (24).
It all started six days ago when the women made a video urging Kashmir authorities to evacuate them from their PG.
“It was difficult for us to live in Delhi as our hostel owner was harassing us over rent money, and there was hardly any food. We were happy when many people responded to the video and Altaf Bukhari called us,” said Rashid (24).
Bukhari, former MLA and founder of Jammu & Kashmir Apni Party, arranged for a private bus for the women and helped them get a pass from the police.
“I was only trying to help the women… The police gave us a pass, and I booked a bus, and we got a permit. I was told that the women will be shifted to another bus in Lakhanpur. I didn’t think they would be left on the streets. I am trying to help,” he said.
The women, however, feel cheated, and one of them, Ulfat Altaf, said, “Why did they arrange for a bus which could only drop us to Lakhanpur? At least we were in our rooms in Delhi. This is the worst. We packed some food last night; we are surviving on that. Where will we spend the night?”
Rohit Kansal, principal secretary of J&K government, said, “We have passed on this information to the Lakhanpur Control Room. The women will be taken care of as per protocol.”
SSP of Kathua Shailendra Mishra said, “People who took permission from Resident Commissioner in their states were allowed to enter Kashmir. We have had over 1,500 people today.”