In any conflict, the worst affected are always the women…
The narrative around the Jammu-and-Kashmir insurgency continues
to be built around the role of freedom fighters, insurgents and politicians
– all of them, not surprisingly, men. Yet, women have played an
extraordinary role in the history of Kashmir, in retaining Kashmiriyat
– that long-forgotten ideal of mutual co-existence. Equally, as mothers,
daughters, widows, fighters, martyrs and mujahids, they have
been inseparable from the four-decade-old conflict.
In The Land I Dream of, researcher Manisha Sobhrajani documents
her encounters with women from disparate backgrounds across
the troubled state. A Kashmiri Pandit forced into exile as a child; a
mother-figure battling the establishment to give hope to thousands
like her whose men have disappeared; an eighty-year-old who trained
to fight tribal invaders in 1947 as part of Kashmir’s first women-only
militia; and young Muslim women empowering themselves through
entrepreneurship – the lives she chronicles bear witness not just to the
suffering and apathy Kashmiri women have had to endure but also to
their strength in the face of it all.
Combining individual recollection with journalistic endeavour,
this searingly personal account of loss and despair and equally of
hope and optimism is a testament to the resilience of the women in
one of the world’s most fractious regions.'