Teenage girl feeds four siblings, cancer patient as father languishes in Kot Balwal jail

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Hajin, Dec 22:

For 19-year-old, Maria Assadulah, of Hajin area of north Kashmir’s district Bandipora, life has come with many sorrows, shocks and sufferings.
Maria, a BA student at Degree College Sumbal, lost her mother Rafiqa Begum in 2012, while the younger sister Sabreen is suffering from skin cancer while her father, Asadullah Parray, continues to languish in jail—who has been slapped with 14th PSA recently. However, Maria harbors hope—saying that fighting the agonies would end the miseries of her family.
“I look after my sisters and a brother by sewing clothes of locals here. I also work at some orchards. That keeps my family going,” she said.
Maria’s father Muhammad Asadullah Parray is a Hurriyat activist associated with Muslim League in Bandipora. Parray is incarcerated from last five years facing charges under draconian Public Safety Act (PSA). “It is 14th PSA slapped on my father since 2008; 10th in a row. Life in the absence of parents is like hell; Almighty is our only hope,” Maria said.
One of the lowest moments for Maria, since she began campaigning for her father’s release, came in days before her father Asadullah was slapped with 10th PSA, in last week of December, after he was bailed out in all cases.
“I have grown up with agonies and sufferings around. My father was the first time arrested in 2008 and we lost our mother because of depression,” said Maria.
Maria said they were hopeful that finally their father will be released as the court granted him bail in all the cases but much to their dismay Parray was booked again.
Maria’s only wish is that her father is shifted to any jail in Kashmir so that they can visit him when needed.
Maria said the government is following the law while her father “his conscience.” She said she cannot come in between this war.
“Let humanity and justice prevail if they (government) are happy in continuing it (the war),” said Maria.
Appealing the authorities to shift her father to any jail in the valley, Maria said, “Neither am I complaining nor do I want our sufferings to become shackles for our father. We can overcome all the sufferings being the daughters of an honest and upright father, we only want him (father) to be around even though he continues to be in prison.”
Kot Balwal, where Assadulah is jailed, being far away, makes it harder for his poor family to stay connected.
“It’s difficult to visit Kot Balwal frequently, it incurs a huge cost,” Osama, the only son of incarcerated Asadullah said adding “we don’t have enough resources to meet our Abu at least once a month.”
Maria’s sister Sabrina, struggling with cancer, is waiting for her father to come home. “My dad is my life,” she said.
“My mother left us when we were kids. She raised us, and left this world while our father was being always dragged to police stations and army camps.”
Assadullah’s continuous incarceration life has adversely affected the day to day life of his kids.
Even though his elder daughter Maria is making every effort to make up for her father’s absence, however, she feels her efforts aren’t enough.
“No matter what I do I can’t become my father,” she said, adding, “It is difficult to manage a chronic patient who has to go through therapies but I am trying my best to protect my young siblings.”
The youngest of the siblings is Osama. He is 10 and studying in class 4; Ulfat, 12, is unable to study because of her mental disability; Insha, 14, is in class 7.
Their neighbors are also helping them but they said that these kids need their father badly.

 

Courtesy: M T Rasool

 

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