Mass Marriage event got delayed in Kashmir, after administration ‘charged money for the social cause’

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By Zeenish Imroz

Inside a public park at district Budgam, Mubeena’s foot size is being measured. Also, a tailor has arrived to take measurements so that her trousseau is done accordingly. She looks uncomfortable till some 15-20 girls made a circle around her and the tailor, to form a human veil.

Being denied a free space by the district administration, Mubeena has no choice but to compromise and get the measurements done as soon as possible. She hesitates while her waist is being measured.

Mubeena is one of the girls getting married this year in the mass marriage event by NGO Aash.

As a part of the process, they needed a hall for taking measurements for dresses and counselling of the 51 couples.

Prospective couples getting counselling inside a park in Budgam. (Pic: TIP/Zeenish Imroz)

Though District Magistrate Sehrish Asgar spoke manifold of the ways government trying to help womenfolk at the Women Conclave on 1st July at the Sheikh-ul-Alam Hall, Budgam, but according to Qurat-ul-Ain Masoodi, the woman who runs Aash, the DC has paid no heed to their request for the past several days.

Aash protests for being charged money for provision of a hall by the government for the counselling of couples for this year’s mass marriage event.

DC Budgam, Sehrish Asgar, said that the ‘meager amount’ was charged in order to pay maintenance and other bills of the conference hall.

However, Qurat-ul-Ain said private hotelier has provided them free space for the mass event while government rejects the same.

Aash head, Qurat-ul-Ain Masoodi interacting with prospective brides. (Pic: TIP/Zeenish Imroz)

The mass marriage which was previously scheduled to be on 23rd and 24th of July 2019 has now been delayed to 7th August because of government’s indifference towards the issue.

“I sent my coordinator Mehraj-u-Din to DC Budgam’s office consecutively for seven days but he was asked to wait outside DC’s office and given no appointment. The DC was dodging us every time we tried to approach her,” said Qurat-ul-Ain Masoodi.

According to her, only when one of the members of the organization posted regarding this on Facebook, the administration finally reacted and said that they would be charged Rs 3500 for the hall which is government’s property.

As a mark of protest, the people from the organization stood outside the DC office Budgam for the day to show their resentment towards this act.

During counselling. (Pic: TIP/Zeenish Imroz)

“When Hotel Six Seasons which is a private property can provide us free space for the marriage ceremony, why can’t our government help us in making a hall available? Instead they are charging us money for the social cause. It is their responsibility. The arrogance of the government towards this issue was such that they didn’t even react to our protest,” said Qurat-ul-Ain Masoodi.

The volunteer organization has been organizing mass marriages of the economically backward families and orphans in the valley since 2015.

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