Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir

Women in Jammu and Kashmir have been living in an unendurable atmosphere for a while now created by the acrimonious implementation of draconian laws. Indian paramilitary forces, militants, and mercenaries have unleashed indiscriminate violence in the state, which has metamorphosed the legendary beauty of Kashmir into an intolerable inferno of bottomless perdition.

The law of the jungle, which prevails in several parts of the state, leaves no scope for rehabilitation of the victims of violence. The desecration of the political, social and cultural landscape looms large over the lovely face of nature in its pure majesty. The grievances of the lacerated hearts of those brutalized are, inevitably, not redressed. The unalloyed purity of nature and the spiritual illumination it inspires have, therefore, been tarnished.

Attempts to drown the voices of progressive women into oblivion became more frequent with the onset of militancy and counter-insurgency in 1989–90. Can the political and social exigencies of the women of J & K be addressed in more nuanced and purposeful ways?

Asymmetrical gender hierarchies legitimized by the forceful dissemination of militarized and fundamentalist discourses portend the debasement of women.

The brutalization and ruthless murder of eight-year old Asifa in Kathua district of Jammu province was the snuffing out of a young life who might have gone on to do wonderful things. Little Asifa belonged to the nomadic Bakharwal Muslim community of Jammu, which has, historically, been socioeconomically marginalized. The innocent child was kidnapped, held in captivity, and raped at the behest of a 60-year old Hindu resident of Kathua district who feared that growing Bakharwal settlements in the area would change the demographics of that part of the state, reducing the Hindu population to a miniscule minority. So what better way to instill fear in a people and drive them off the land?

The site of Asifa’s defilement and ruthless murder was a local Hindu temple. She was deployed as a pawn on the chessboard of regional and communal antipathies, which is simply pathetic!

I have always maintained that in India, the Congress stealthily does by night what the BJP does in broad daylight. And sure enough, the President of the Jammu High Court Bar Association, which is playing a highly reprehensible role in defending those responsible for the brutalization and murder of little Asifa, is affiliated with the Congress Party.

In addition, former BJP minister Lal Singh continues to perpetuate divisive politics by categorising women along caste and religious lines. How in the world can he justify the barbarity of little Asifa’s brutalization and murder!

The polarising rhetoric deployed by BJP bigwigs in the Jammu province of the state has portrayed the nation as an invention that breeds relentless hatred. Their myopic vision renders the nation all the more threatening because the belligerent politics leading to its construction is internecine and does not bind Muslim to Hindu or Bengali to Kashmiri but rather sunders Bengali from Bengali and Kashmiri from Kashmiri. Such an irregular politics polarises these ethnic groups into Hindus and Muslims who are required to disavow their cultural, linguistic, and social unities. Such short-sightedness will prove even more detrimental to the constitutional integrity of India.

The ruling political party in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a women’s wing that claims that the image of woman as powerful mother underlines economic independence for women and reinforces her strength and courage of conviction to sacrifice for the family. The BJP vociferously campaigns for women in parliament and the judiciary. The women members of this political party argue that they could never identify the modern Indian woman with the liberated woman of the Western world. On the contrary, they campaign for reverting to a mythic past where women were purportedly equals in society. In doing so, the women’s wing of the BJP makes an ardent attempt to reconstruct history in order to inspire the kind of politics that present-day nationalism requires. However, the most barbaric acts against women are justified as means to restore the lost dignity of a caste/ community, which the Asifa case has made clear as day.

And in practice, gender violence is a consistent feature of the riots and political thuggery that spasmodically grip the subcontinent. The wretchedness of the crime committed against Asifa bears testimony to the intersecting notions of family, nation, and community. The horrific stories of women that are in most instances attributed to folklore underscore the complicity of official and nationalist historiography in perpetuating these notions. I might add that the feminization of the “homeland” as the “motherland” for which nationalist are willing to lay down their lives serves, in effect, to preserve native women in pristine retardation.

Asifa could have belonged to any region, any community, and/ or been anyone’s child. She was a young girl who deserved to live with dignity, grow, reach her potential, and thrive to the fullest.

That in and of itself is reason enough to evoke my sympathy and strongly condemn the wretchedness of those who are leaving no stone unturned to deny her justice.

It is high time we learned to see girls/ women as individuals in their own right, not merely as repositories of communal and traditional values.

Unfortunately, politicians in the Kashmir province of the state are guilty of deploying Asifa as a pawn as well to whip up anarchy, leading to the closure of educational institutions with students taking to the streets to protest the incident. A mainstream movement or a militant nationalist movement must have the foresight to pay attention to whether the legislation and execution of political, economic, and social policies and programs in contemporary Kashmir is successfully addressing women’s as well as men’s experiences and concerns. Otherwise political and religious rhetoric doesn’t go beyond the rhetorical.

 

More articles by:

Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman, and the editor of The Parchment of Kashmir. Nyla Ali Khan has also served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She can be reached at nylakhan@aol.com.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail