Gender political violence are often particularly the democracy

Gender issues cut across all sectors of the society
regardless of the social, political and economic context. Their articulation in
situations of armed conflict and political violence are often particularly the democracy of India, reinforcement of local perceptions of
legitimacy of use of military for domestic repression is emerging as an
important question in the complex understanding of nationhood, especially in
states who have undergone or are undergoing AFSPA (Armed Forces (Special
Powers) Act). Consequently, the impact of ‘armed intervention’ on gender
relations and gender equality has become a key issue.  As previous researches have already begin to
explore what local legitimacy entails to those involved in and affected by
armed intervention and the growing dichotomy of identities, I would like to
shift the lens to women who form a large part of the population that is often
neglected in understanding of local legitimacy under constant armed vigilance
and violence as a perception-based, relational phenomenon. Through this lens,
the focus would be on Kashmir while examining armed intervention in states
under AFSPA, i.e., Assam and Manipur in 1958, Amritsar and Chandigarh in 1983
and Jammu and Kashmir in 1990.

In particular, I would like to study the
relationship between locals, especially the women in Kashmir and intervening
armed forces they interacts with in the valley, and how it shapes the
identities and create perspectives on local legitimacy held by the main
‘interveners’ and those ‘intervened upon’.The term new war’s coined by Mary Kaldor (2006), is
distinctly different from past wars in terms of its goals, fighting methods and
financial sources. The 21st century wars are about identity politics she says
using the term gruesome to describe violence. They are more decentralized than
war in the era of world wars between state actors. They are, instead of purely
interstate conflicts, “a mixture of war, organized crime, and massive
violations of human rights. The actors are global and local, public and
private”. According to the Uppsala university conflict data program an armed
conflict is defined as a ‘contested incompatibility that concerns government
and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at
least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related
deaths in one calendar year’1.As Sumit Ganguly (2002) writes, with the possible
exception of Arab-Israeli dispute, Kashmir conflict remains an intractable
issue in the post-World War II era. India and Pakistan continue to be an
impasse regarding Kashmir, each stating their territorial as legitimate. This
legitimation process, which Goddard calls, ‘legitimation strategies’, has
continued for well over three decade now with little hope of reaching a

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There has been an
exclusion of women and gender issues in political conflict from the arena of
international politics which has been explained through the reference to public
and private dichotomy. The dichotomy rises from the assumption that ‘power’
belongs to the public political domain, which is considered a male
monopoly where women have no role to play. Though the views that women have no
power or political agency and they are only dependent on the existing social
and political structures have been challenged, the dichotomy continues to exist
in the fringes. In the context of Northern Ireland, Begonia Aretxaga (1997) has
point out that internment and the widespread raids of people’s homes have
blurred the boundaries between household and communal space and at certain
moments practically erased them. This erasure of boundaries has had
implications for the transformation of gender roles and identities in both
contexts. Militarization presupposes a close relation between political and
military elites. As Cynthia Enloe, a pioneer in the study of militarization
through gendered lenses, notes that a community’s politicized sense becomes
entangled with circumstances and pressures for its men to take up arms and
choose side, the women are needed to support the familial relations in their
quest to become ‘soldiers’, there is a burning need to answer questions like
what does militarization mean for women’s and men’s relationship to each other
within and outside the familial context; what happens when some women resist
that pressure; arises.

When a conflict
between or among parties involves a core sense of identity, the conflict tends
to be intractable. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act and the
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Indian security forces have
extraordinary powers which include the authority to shoot suspected lawbreakers
and those disturbing peace. The AFSPA also grants the Indian military wide
powers of arrest, the right to shoot to kill, and to occupy or destroy property
in counter-insurgency operations1.
Deep-rooted conflicts have developed under such over-arching powers of Indian
security forces where there are underlying needs that cannot be compromised,
and interests and positions are deemed non-negotiable, existing tensions have
evolved into a reign of unrest in conflict-ridden states of India like Kashmir.
Chenoy and Chenoy have spoken about the denial of rights and justice which
leads to a sense of collective victimhood and narratives of oppression
identified with a community. This collective victimization heightens identity
Yuval Nira Davis, points out that, the burden of representation on women of the
collective identity and future destiny has also brought about the construction
of women as the bearers of the collective honour. She goes on to talk about the construction of womanhood has a property of
‘otherness’. Strict cultural codes of what is to be a ‘proper woman’ are often
developed to keep woman in this inferior power position. Women living in conflict
situations have been subjected to range of human rights violations like rape, molestation,
physical and sexual violence. Women being considered as appendages of men have
been given differential treatment. Women are also indirectly affected in terms
of killing, torture, disappearance of their family members. There has been
increase in female headed households, stressing women with additional burden of
maintaining the household. Because of the vulnerable nature of adolescent
girls, their movement has been restricted affecting their education. The sexual
appropriation of Kashmiri Muslim women by the military functions not just as an
especially potent political weapon, but also a cultural weapon to inflict collective
humiliation on Muslim Kashmiri men (Kazi, 2010).The 1990’s crisis of insurgency of Kashmir improved
partially with commencement of peace talks between India and Pakistan and
dialogues between the Centre and stakeholders in Kashmir in the early 2000’s.
As the talks died down, abuse of human rights and increase of power of the military
in around 2007 set a tone for the emergence of a stronger militant power in
Kashmir. 2016 saw a complete breakdown of law and order post killing and abuse
of locals in the area. In this situation, the question of identity remains
paramount and has gained further importance in the past two decades as the tug
and tussle of identities – ethnic, linguistic, religious, class, and especially
national continues to dominate political life throughout the region. Every time
these aspects of identity are perceived to be denied or threatened tensions
between different identity groups have escalated and the threat of conflict has
emerged. Possibly nowhere else in the world are the contours of identity, both
within and across nations, so complicated. The way in which conflicts of
identity and legitimacy are resolved will not only affect peace and stability
in the states but may also have greater implications for nationalist and
religious movements in other regions of the country. Identities are created,
ascribed, exploited negotiated in relation to the state where resistance and
dialogue are cogs in the governmental mechanism.

As Sangri writes,
that everyday gendered violence serves to reinforce all other forms of violence
in our society, and is a connective tissue between patriarchal systems and
social structures, the node at which the social inequalities represented by
each of these dominant agencies meet and interact1.
Women are not bound by homogenous experience, with emphasis on the importance
of their subjective experiences of militarisation cannot be clubbed with
general understanding of gender vis-à-vis militarisation. To state simply, women
in Kashmir experience conflict ‘differently’. My research would focus on the
crisis of identity in face of questions of legitimacy posed women of Kashmir
and children to some extent. There is an embodiment of violence in the local
identities where question about local legitimacy of military forces has become
increasingly contested among Kashmiris thus leading to questions of the kind of
identities that are emerging and their impact on the legitimacy of the violence
propagated by the state. This has further increased largely due to the
perceived intensification of foreign intrusion on ‘everyday’ life.The study will be a sociological and a feminist
study, which will use both qualitative and quantitative approach. The study
will use in-depth interviews as the primary method. Semi-structured interviews
will be conducted with selected respondents. The interviews will focus on  their everyday experiences and interaction
with the military and government officials present in the Valley. The other
stakeholders with whom short interviews will be conducted include family or
friends of the respondents, military and police personnel and local government
officials. The study intends to be a narrative ethnographic study as it elucidates
the “storying of experience in everyday life” (Gubrium and Holstein, 2008).
Standpoint epistemology approach will benefit the study during analysis and
interpretation of these narratives because the distinction of ‘facts’ or ‘data’
and experiences is blurred. This is important to understand and translate these
women’s knowledge into practise and apply them towards social change and work
towards elimination of oppression of the marginalized.Being aware that this is sensitive topic to
broach to the stakeholders in this region and in a time where the Indian
government and local population is trying to navigate through their differences
to reach a common ground, it is important be to be aware of the power elation
between the researcher and the researched where the representation constitutes
of women’s political opposition to the dominant. Non-disclosure of respondent’s
identities is crucial to protect their well and views. None of the interviews
will be conducted without explicit consent and any action that can threaten the
respondent’s safety will emphatically avoided. Patience, sensitivity and trust
are crucial when accessing in university spaces and the respondents about their
experiences.India has seen a steady growth of feminist
scholarship through several detailed, well researched and documented studies on
the position of women in the country since Independence and prior to 1947 in
past few decades. Though there has been several studies on Kashmir, the women
of the valley and their issues have not received due attention. My primary
objective therefore is to fulfil this lacuna and study the changing position of
women and gender relation since last decade. Indian citizens, outside the region
of Kashmir have diverse options on this issue and often these voices are
coloured in religious and communal colours. The awareness about the situation
has seen a shift in media representation where words chosen, images portrayed
stoke the national patriotism and deepen the sense of ethnic belonging in
opposition to ‘other’ from ‘we’, which in turn threatens the multicultural
society we are striving to create. Thus, it is important for me that through my
work, along with contributing to a more comprehensive global understanding of
the complex role, responsibilities whether as victims, perpetrators or actors
in a military controlled conflict region, this study also intends to bring a
certain degree of awareness.