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Chasing A Mirage

Sadia Hussain

By Manisha Sobhrajani
Hachette, India, 2014, pp. 190, $11.99


The Kashmir conflict continues to be one of the long pending issues be fore the United Nations. The people in this northern-most State of India have lived amidst chaos, confusion, trauma, turmoil and prolonged conflict. The Kashmir story though simple has been misinterpreted and misrepresented, thus making it a complex and a confusing issue. The conflict has engulfed both men and women; while men crossed the border to receive training in arms, the women were at the frontline participating in the protest marches and providing the psycho-social support to the menfolk. The broad narrative which surrounds the J&K conflict has always been woven around the role played by men in forms of freedom fighters, militants, martyrs and security forces, while the women who have played an exemplary role and bore the brunt of this insurgence, remain unrecognized and unnoticed. It is this non-recognition of the role of Kashmiri women which one gets to learn about through Manisha Sobhrajani’s work. Her book documents her encounters with the women from diverse backgrounds and the ways they defied various kinds of oppression. The author begins with an account of the myths surrounding the creation of this mystic land. She has focused on the modern history of the State from 1946 even though political troubles in Kashmir can be traced back to the 8th Century. The State of J&K is divided into three parts—Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Even though all the three regions are poles apart in terms of geography, culture, food, the commonality of the sufferings that the conflict has got with it binds the three regions together. The author after travelling through the length and breadth of the conflict-hit State has come to the conclusion that women form an inseparable part of the four decadelong conflict. They have borne the brunt in the form of the most ghastly human rights violations and it is these violations that remain a dominant factor for driving more and more women to rebellion. Women’s issues form a plethora of complex issues with infinite boundaries which have largely remained undocumented. The author recounts the various informal chats and conversations that she has had with Kashmiri women of diverse backgrounds. Sukanya Parashar was one such woman, who had been the member of an all women’s Militia Group that existed as early as 1947. The group was raised to train women in self-defence in order ...

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