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Book about lives of South Asia’s women combatants launched

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 6, 2016-

Garrisoned Minds, a book which reflects on the lives of women combatants including former Maoist combatants and other conflict zones in South Asia, was launched on Monday.

The book explores the impact of  militarisation on the lives of women in four conflict-affected zones of South Asia: Pakistan’s frontier provinces which share a border with Afghanistan; Nepal during and after its decade-long civil war; Northeast India under the shadow of AFSPA; and the Kashmir valley amidst the overwhelming presence of the Indian army.

Twelve journalists have contributed in the making of the book.

Deepak Adhikari, one of the four contributors from Nepal, said that the peace process had left the so- called disqualified combatants in the lurch, and many of them, especially women, are living a disillusioned life after failing to get integrated in the Nepal Army.

 “During my research I found that the way the Maoist combatants who could not get reintegrated felt as though they were nowhere people. They are still struggling to get the reins of their life,” said Adhikari. The fact that a chunk of women combatants were left out in the reintegration process was also stressed by Leela Sharma a former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier.

“Only 105 women were qualified to join the Nepal Army while the total number estimated then was 3,000. Moreover, the compensation was provided in just monetary package. But these disqualified soldiers were not provided socio-psycho counselling or life skill trainings to start a new life after living a life of guerilla warriors for a decade,” said Sharma.

Sharma pointed out that when the Maoists entered the peace process in November 2006, the number of PLA fighters was around 30,000. But verifications carried out by the United Mission in Nepal (Unmin) disqualified over 10,000 from getting integrated in the Nepal Army.

The essays on the book range from evocative accounts of women’s personal lives during combat in Nepal and while travelling through the changing political landscape of Manipur, to detailed explorations of violent restrictions imposed on specific communities, such as the Hazaras of Pakistan, the dancing girls of Swat Valley, or the ostracised widows of counter-insurgents in Kashmir. They represent the lived realities of a diverse set of women forced to come to terms with horrific circumstances, and determined to wage peace.

Darshan Karki, Sewa Bhattarai and Trishna Rana are the other contributors from Nepal.

Published: 06-09-2016 07:54

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