FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
Negin Owliaei
Time for a Billionaire Ban
Binoy Kampmark
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition
Bernard Marszalek
Toward a Counterculture of Rebellion
Brian Horejsi
The Benefits of Environmental Citizenship
Brian Cloughley
All That Gunsmoke
Graham Peebles
Why is there so Much Wrong in Our Society?
Jonah Raskin
Black, Blue, Jazzy and Beat Down to His Bones: Being Bob Kaufman
John Kendall Hawkins
Treason as a Lifestyle: I’ll Drink to That
Manuel García, Jr.
Heartrending Antiwar Songs
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Poetry and Political Struggle: The Dialectics of Rhyme
Ben Terrall
The Rise of Silicon Valley
David Yearsley
Performance Anxiety
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail