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Love?s labour lost in J&K prison

Warming herself in the wintry sun at a police station in Jammu and Kashmir, Kapoor Jaan could do with some confidence-building measures.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 04:53 IST

Warming herself in the wintry sun at a police station in Jammu and Kashmir, Kapoor Jaan could do with some confidence-building measures. Before the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service began and the Indian and Pakistani governments talked of cross-border journeys, Jaan had slyly tiptoed from her village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to Srinagar. All for marriage. But she ended up in so many Indian jails that even she can’t number.

Dressed in a phirni and with a wan smile that borders on scorn, the 35-year-old says she came to India as the young bride of one Javed from Uri. The marriage didn’t last longer than the honeymoon. One morning Jaan woke up to find the house empty. Her husband and in-laws had gone back to PoK. A teenager then, she stealthily tried to cross the Line of Control but was caught by Indian soldiers.

“I was declared guilty of crossing the border and sent to prison. I can’t remember how long I was in jail,” says Jaan. When the term ended, she was handed over to the Pakistani Army, who trundled her back to her village in PoK.

Not for long. Jaan’s second marriage — she now calls it a misadventure — once again to a Kashmiri on the Indian side was in 2003. It obviously entailed another border crossing. The 30-member baraat slipped through the fences and travelled to and from Uri and her father’s house in Bandi-Awaspur in Bagh. A year later, when her husband Yaqoob Mir began to torture her and the family accused her of stealing, she made her way back to her father’s house. India was jinxed, she told herself. But so was PoK. “‘You have to go back to India’, my brother told me,” she says.

For the fifth time, Jaan crossed the LoC. And as luck would have it, she was caught again. “My husband didn’t bother to fight my case, nor did he turn up to meet me all this while,” she says as she counts six on her fingers to indicate the number of months she’s spent in jail. Her sentence is over and the police station acts like a temporary shelter. She wants to cross the border one last time — to return to her village for good. “Has it survived the earthquake,” she wonders. Till then, she remains in no woman’s land.