Over the years, thousands of Kashmiri men have disappeared after they were forcibly taken away, mostly by Indian forces. Parveena Ahanger, whose son went missing, is spearheading a movement to find lost family members.
In the early 1990s, Ahanger’s life was like any other ordinary mother in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, until her eldest son Javaid, a teenager in high school, was picked up by Indian-armed forces from their home. Ahanger never saw her son again.
Javaid Ahanger is just one of thousands of young men who were forcibly taken away by Indian forces, and in some cases, by unknown gunmen. To this day, many families do not know what happened to their disappeared relatives. Government officials allege these men crossed over to Pakistan to train with separatist militants, but Kashmiri families deny this accusation, choosing instead to look for their lost sons.
For the last 30 years, Ahanger has been trying to trace her boy. “I went to police stations, I traveled to army camps, I went to forests, villages and everywhere I could reach,” she told DW, adding, “my longing for my son made me go to places I never imagined going to. I would leave home early in the morning without food.”