Parveena Ahanger, also known as the Iron Lady of Kashmir, is on a quest to find her son, Javed Ahmad, who disappeared more than twenty years ago. Though her search is still on, her efforts have lead her to help others whose loved ones have disappeared in the valley.
Her 16 year-old-son, Javeed Ahmad Ahanger, was allegedly arrested by security forces on August 18, 1990, and has since then not returned home.
Parveena, who is illiterate, has never lost hope and has continued her struggle to find her son.
An organization by the name of Association of Parents of Displaced Persons (APDP) was formed and Parveena became the chairperson of it. It aims at finding the whereabouts of people who have disappeared in Kashmir during the two- decade long conflict.
She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2005 for her strength and human rights activism.
While taking to TopYaps, Parveena said that she will continue her search along with hundreds of people till they find their dear ones.
“It is not only my struggle. We are hundreds of mothers who are waiting to know about the whereabouts of their dear ones.”
Traveling to almost all the Indian states, Philippines, Indonesia and even Europe, Parveena has spent her whole life to find her son Javed .
Parveena got married at the young age of 12, to Ghulam Nabi Ahanger who had his own car workshop, which was the only source of bread and butter for the whole family. She never imagined venturing out from her home but the love for her son has made her to travel to all the jails throughout India. However, she only faced disappointment everywhere she looked.
Parveena’s family has supported her but she says that her in-laws were against forming an association.
“My in-laws were never in my favor. They used to torture me with their taunts. They used to tell me that a single woman can never get justice.”
In order to make APDP a successful organization, representing everyone, she traveled from village to village and helped trace missing people.
To make sure that the basis of the organization stayed strong, she never attached herself with any political party or association.
While Parveena kept herself busy, the family, comprising of three other sons namely Aashiq Hussain, Yasir Ahmad, Tariq Ahmad and one daughter Saima Ahangar, were deprived of their mother’s care and family wellness. Her daughter Saima, at the age of 18, after qualifying her 12th class examination joined APDP to be a helping hand for the cause which her mother is fighting for.
Parveena Ahangar being interviewed by QShaam of BBC Urdu.twitter
It was due to her tireless efforts that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sanctioned financial aid to the families associated with the APDP. From this fund, she is running the organization.
They organize a peaceful protest on 10th of every month to make their voices heard regarding the disappearances in Kashmir. Half-widows, mothers, sisters, wives, and even children of these missing people participate in the protest.
She was nominated by CNN IBN for an award which she rejected on account of the biased approach adopted by mainstream media of India over their reporting on Kashmir.
Ahanger spoke at London’s University of Wesminster in 2014. She stressed that she will continue to fight for justice .
“I will die. But I will not stop.”
She also asked Britain to pressurize the Indian government about the growing human rights violations in Kashmir.
“Nobody understands a mother’s pain. I’m a victim, there are many like us. APDP originated out of my pain, and the pain of hundreds of mothers like me.”