In this personal and passionate account, activist and researcher Sahba Husain documents her deeply engaged and empathetic involvement with the politicised terrain of Kashmir. As she meets people that she speaks with and, more importantly, listens to, she begins to question her own ‘Indian’ identity. Recognizing the anger, despair and helplessness of a people caught in conflict and violence, Husain forms deep friendships during her time working in the state.
It is these relationships that form the backdrop of this book, in which Husain focuses on certain key areas: the health of a people, militancy and its changing meanings for local people and the state, impunity and the search for justice, migration and the longing for homes left behind, and women’s activism in the faultlines of nation-state and community. A book of surprising beauty in its engagement with human relationships, of love for a land and a people and of hope for a future free of violence, Love, Loss, and Longing in Kashmir is a compelling and necessary read.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: As this book goes to press, there is news of the abrogation, by the Indian government, of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Major changes that affect the lives of people in Kashmir are being put in place. Currently, there is a heavy presence of the armed forces, curfew is in place, telephone and internet lines have been suspended, people are in fear and there is huge bewilderment, confusion, anger. No one knows what the future will hold. This book, the result of long years of engagement with Kashmir, ends on a note of hope. It is our hope and belief too that whatever the future holds, it is the people of Kashmir who will shape it for their state and their world.
SAHBA HUSAIN is an independent researcher and women’s rights activist. For the last two decades, she has travelled extensively in Jammu and Kashmir, documenting the social consequences of armed conflict, mass violence and militarization on individuals, families and communities, with a special focus on women. Her earlier research focused on problems of working women in the organized and unorganized sectors in several states of India and on the impact of development policies on women’s social, political and economic status.