Zafar Aafaq | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Kashmir’s prominent human rights activist and chairwoman of an association for families of the disappeared Ms. Parveena Ahangar, known as the iron lady of Kashmir, has been included in the list of 100 most inspiring and influential women from across the globe by BBC, the state broadcaster in the United Kingdom, for the year 2019.
Speaking to Caravan Daily from her home in Srinagar, Ms Ahangar said that it is an honour for her to be included in the list.
“It’s an honour not just for me but for all those women and men in Kashmir who struggle for justice,” she said.
Ms Ahangar formed the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in 1994 to organize efforts to seek justice and get information on the whereabouts of missing family members.
Her son was also abducted by security forces in early 90s and is among nearly 8000 people who have been subjected to enforced disappearances since early 90s when state had resorted to strong crackdown in the wake of insurgency.
“My name in the list should inspire us all to raise our voice against Zulm (oppression),” she said.
Indian legal structure provides immunity to armed forces operating in Kashmir against prosecution and consequently the human rights abuses go unchecked.
According to the profile on its official website, APDP actively campaigns to bring an end to the practice and crime of involuntary and enforced disappearances at local, national and international platforms.
On the 10th of every month members of APDP assemble in Pratap Park in Srinagar and hold a sit in as a form of protest against disappearances.
“The grief of losing my son to enforced disappearance inspires me to stand for justice and accountability, and I aspire to work towards making the world a better place, especially for women. It is imperative that women issues are given prime importance in today’s world, especially for those living in conflict and war zones,” BBC quotes Ms Ahangar having said.
Ms Ahangar is a Rafto laureate of 2017. She was conferred with the honour in 2017 by the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights of Norway alongwith Mr Parvez Imroz, a noted human rights Lawyer operating in Kashmir.
The Rafto Prize is awarded annually to individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves in their work for human rights and democracy.
Other than the Iron Lady of Kashmir, BBC’s list of influential women from across the globe includes iseven more women from India.
They are: Ms Pragati Singh, who runs an online community for asexual people; Ms Vanda Shiva, an environmentalist; Ms Natasha Neol, a Yoga practitioner; Ms Sushmita Mohanty, founder of India’s first start up; Ms Subhalakshmi Nandi, gender equality expert; and Ms Aranya Johar, a young poet whose work focuses on mental health issues.