200 days of Kashmir siege: A mother’s wait for her jailed son

Ateeqa Begum has made several rounds of the courts since her son, Faisal Aslam Mir, was detained on August 6 last year, a day after India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy.

Thursday marks 200 days since the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a crippling security and communications lockdown in the Muslim-majority region, with thousands of Kashmiris locked up as part of the crackdown.

Mir, 22, is among hundreds of people in Indian-administered Kashmir detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which has been dubbed “draconian” by Amnesty International. Many of the detainees have been moved to jails across India.

Ateeqa says her son was arrested when he left his home in the Maisuma locality of Srinagar, the region’s main city, to buy medicine.

She longs to meet Mir, who has been moved to a jail in Agra city, about 1,100km from Srinagar. But she can not afford to travel. Her husband, Muhammad Aslam Mir, died more than a decade ago leaving behind two children, including a daughter who is now married.

From the past seven months, Ateeqa says she visits government offices, attends court hearings and visits shrines with a hope her son will be freed.

“He was my whole world and his absence is driving me mad,” she says.

“Everyone – neighbours, relatives – tell me that I should have patience but how much?” asks Ateeqa at her home, where she lives alone. “I just want to see him once so that I can have some peace. I do not know about his condition.”

 

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