half the sky……a saga of kashmiri women

Behold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir's Women and ChildrenBehold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir’s Women and Children by Freny Manecksha
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She was in need of urgent medical help-her daughter was shivering from fever. Only a mother can risk her life-letting her out on the deserted road- road that seen wrath of agitators –road that bears the brunt of clash between angry agitator and the security personnel.
Yet-she was out! She had to be out! The nearest hospital was barely a kilometre away. There was curfew imposed on the area-now and then –for the last thirty five days. At some point she had to be out on the road- carrying her feverish child- seeking medical help.
And then it all happened. She first encountered a group of security personnel-who assured her to approach. And then there was another group of paramilitary forces- their guns pointed. Sensing danger- she tried to flee. The men opened fire!
She was struck with five bullets in her backside!
The paramilitary men “tried to drag her still body, face down, across the streets.’’
Gunshots make the people realise something terribly wrong has happened-they came rushing to the spot.
But she had already suffered fatal injury by then! Relatives tried to take her to the hospital, but the ambulance in which she has been carried was stopped twice and her in laws have been beaten mercilessly.
She fought bravely with death for several months-and with neurological disorder thanks to bullet injuries.
But she succumbed……. .
Relaxing at our recliner, at the comfort of our warm drawing room can we ever imagine why her soul and body is subjected to torment? ‘Her ‘does not mean the lady whose story is first narrated- ‘her ‘means thousands of nameless, faceless women who is subjected to such torture every single hour, every single minute, every single second in a land which was once known to the world as ‘Jannat e Jahan’(heaven on earth).
Seems ironical-isn’t it?
Behold, I Shine by Freny Manecksha –a freelancing journalist is a strong investigating narrative of the Kashmiri women and children- how they are. It is not really easy to continue with investigative journalism in a state where literally power flows from the barrel of the gun. Freny worked hard in fathoming the depth of the situation-she made countless interviews- talked with representatives from various peer group-made herself present where events took place. In her own words,which appeals straight to the heart-“I started acquiring an understanding of how stories must be heard. A rigid question –and- answer format doesn’t always work. Hesitation, the seconds of silence or gestures can be as truthful and powerful as spoken words. I had to grant these women the freedom to let their stories flow in whatever way of manner they choose. ..When I gave women the space to speak, I learnt how each narrative could have interwoven skeins of suffering ,trauma, healing, resilience, resistance, struggle, humour and most of all, individuality.”
Freny started with a brief introduction of the state and the people and the historical perspective of the issue. From times abode, the state of Jammu and Kashmir remained independent except for short spans under Maryuas (3 rd century B.C.), the Mughals (16 th to 18 th century), the Afghans (1752 onwards). The Afghan rule was replaced by Sikh rule under Ranjit Singh. The autocracy of Sikhs lasted for 28 years after being replaced by the colonial rule. Gulab Singh was offered the throne of the state, by the Amritsar treaty signed on March 16, 1946.Lahore treaty signed on Mach9, and 1946 recognised him as independent princely ruler of the state by the British. Ghulab Singh was succeeded by Rambir Singh (1857-85), Pratab Singh (1185-1925), Hari Singh (1925-1949) respectively, unleashing a region of terror in the state. that’s why Dogra rulers were always considered as outsiders to the state-whose tyrannical rule were never welcome to the people of the state. When the partition of India did ultimately took place –the Maharaja was in two minds. The majority Muslim population on the face of an Indian aggression took to the streets. Pressure on the part of Neheru, Sheikh Abdullah and Mountbatten compelled Maharaja to sign the “letter of Instrument of Accession of India” on 20th October, 1947. On 2nd October, 1947, the prime minister of India Mr. Nehru announced on all India radio that “the fate of Kashmir will be decided by plebiscite”. The principle of self determination has been echoed by Mr. Nehru on Indian parliament on 12 th February, 1951- “We have given our pledge to the people of Kashmir and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide.
In this light of historical truth-the problem of the state needs to be realized. Freny made a quick review of the struggle of the people of the state for their right for self determination. She continued with incidents of human right violation by the paramilitary, the police and the army. Under the clout of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA)-heinous crimes are committed- sadly by the people who are supposed to be the upholder of law, against children and woman. Freny narrated one incident-in her inimitable language where five boys went out to see a religious festival on a hired car and their journey did end in the same car with blood dripping out of it-two of the boys were dead-two seriously wounded-and one traumatized. The soldiers who made this horrific killing simply apologized saying that they mistook the vehicle as terrorist vehicle as it failed to stop at two check posts. One of the survivors lived to tell his experience-after the bullet hit vehicle collided with the post-
“When the firing stopped after less than a minute, I looked at Faisal who was drenched in blood and was not moving. I looked behind and Kunud Mehraj,Shakir and Zahid fallen on each other with blood oozing out from their bodies.’
And the soldiers will simply apologize! Because law has permitted them to do so…….
As per government statistics there are 150 militants in the valley. And to fight them? 7,00000 security personnel have been deployed.
For whose safety? For whose welfare?
When a woman is being raped-the government takes the decision that the woman’s allegation cannot be trusted- as her husband was an absconding militant. And when she makes an appeal to the government-the government prefers to remain mum.
Justice is not only delayed…justice is also denied.
In a country-which is the largest democracy of the world.
And what will be the natural reaction of the Kashmiri woman about the largest democracy. They will fight for their right-naturally.
“I gave my son to azadi!”What did one mean by that? A small remark by a poor woman in Sophian prodded me to try and understood the role of Kashmiri women, who contributed to decade’s fervor, by ‘giving up’ their sons to the militancy and remained proud of the ‘ultimate sacrifice’’ of their young warriors.”
The women continue to struggle- struggle against poverty, struggle against illiteracy, struggle against oppression….
And still they dream…..
One day she will walk on the road, her head is held high, her mind is without fear of hunger, without fear of molestation, without fear of illiteracy, and without any fear about the future of her future child.
We all wait for the day

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Other information
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India (24 May 2017)
Language: English

ISBN-10: 8129145715
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