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‘An honest and sympathetic narrative on the lives of women drawn into the dark world of terrorism and insurgency.’—Ajai Sahni, Founding Member and Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management Purnima, a faith healer in Imphal, Manipur, and Ribini, a nurse in a hospital in Assam. Unlikely occupations for women who once lived life on the run: the former as the ‘An honest and sympathetic narrative on the lives of women drawn into the dark world of terrorism and insurgency.’—Ajai Sahni, Founding Member and Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management Purnima, a faith healer in Imphal, Manipur, and Ribini, a nurse in a hospital in Assam. Unlikely occupations for women who once lived life on the run: the former as the fearless Nalini, a member of the rebel Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), a crack shot much in demand as an assassin and extortionist, and the latter as Lance Corporal Raisumai of the Bodo Security Force (BdSF), a banned militant separatist organization in the northeast. In faraway Kashmir, Khalida was just another schoolgirl till 21 January 2007, the day she was found with a bullet through her head—gunned down by the Baramulla police who believed she was going to meet her comrades in the dreaded militant organization, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Or by the militants, who suspected her of double-crossing them? No one will ever know who killed Khalida, but hers is a fate often met by the women of this embattled state. Since the time that LTTE operative Dhanu, the first known human bomb in India, assassinated former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in a suicide bombing in 1991, women have been crucial operators in insurgencies in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Kashmir. Given the same rigorous training as their male comrades, they carry AK-47s, rob banks, ambush security forces and play the game of subterfuge with amazing élan. Through the stories of Purnima, Khalida, Ribini and others profiled in this book, Rashmi Saksena attempts to get under their skin and fathom what goes into the making of a woman militant. What motivates them to abandon the traditional playbook for girls and embrace the uncertain life of an insurgent, and, equally, how easy is it for them to return to the ‘normal’ world, when age, or the desire for marriage and motherhood, makes them want to give it all up? About the Author Veteran journalist Rashmi Saksena is a pioneer amongst women newsgatherers. She became Delhi’s first woman crime reporter when she joined the Hindustan Times in 1971. She has worked with The Sunday Mail, The Telegraph and The Week. She is currently Consulting Editor of The Hitavada and on the Editorial Advisory Board of India Review & Analysis, a journal of the think tank, Society for Policy Studies. Her awards include the Prabha Dutt Memorial Award for Balanced Reporting, the Lions Club Award for reporting on the Punjab insurgency and the Women of Substance Award for Journalism by Ryan Foundation.


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‘An honest and sympathetic narrative on the lives of women drawn into the dark world of terrorism and insurgency.’—Ajai Sahni, Founding Member and Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management Purnima, a faith healer in Imphal, Manipur, and Ribini, a nurse in a hospital in Assam. Unlikely occupations for women who once lived life on the run: the former as the ‘An honest and sympathetic narrative on the lives of women drawn into the dark world of terrorism and insurgency.’—Ajai Sahni, Founding Member and Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management Purnima, a faith healer in Imphal, Manipur, and Ribini, a nurse in a hospital in Assam. Unlikely occupations for women who once lived life on the run: the former as the fearless Nalini, a member of the rebel Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), a crack shot much in demand as an assassin and extortionist, and the latter as Lance Corporal Raisumai of the Bodo Security Force (BdSF), a banned militant separatist organization in the northeast. In faraway Kashmir, Khalida was just another schoolgirl till 21 January 2007, the day she was found with a bullet through her head—gunned down by the Baramulla police who believed she was going to meet her comrades in the dreaded militant organization, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Or by the militants, who suspected her of double-crossing them? No one will ever know who killed Khalida, but hers is a fate often met by the women of this embattled state. Since the time that LTTE operative Dhanu, the first known human bomb in India, assassinated former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in a suicide bombing in 1991, women have been crucial operators in insurgencies in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Kashmir. Given the same rigorous training as their male comrades, they carry AK-47s, rob banks, ambush security forces and play the game of subterfuge with amazing élan. Through the stories of Purnima, Khalida, Ribini and others profiled in this book, Rashmi Saksena attempts to get under their skin and fathom what goes into the making of a woman militant. What motivates them to abandon the traditional playbook for girls and embrace the uncertain life of an insurgent, and, equally, how easy is it for them to return to the ‘normal’ world, when age, or the desire for marriage and motherhood, makes them want to give it all up? About the Author Veteran journalist Rashmi Saksena is a pioneer amongst women newsgatherers. She became Delhi’s first woman crime reporter when she joined the Hindustan Times in 1971. She has worked with The Sunday Mail, The Telegraph and The Week. She is currently Consulting Editor of The Hitavada and on the Editorial Advisory Board of India Review & Analysis, a journal of the think tank, Society for Policy Studies. Her awards include the Prabha Dutt Memorial Award for Balanced Reporting, the Lions Club Award for reporting on the Punjab insurgency and the Women of Substance Award for Journalism by Ryan Foundation.

40 review for She Goes to War: Women Militants of India

  1. 4 out of 5

    Celia Sánchez

    Featuring 16 women militants from five Indian states — Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland — the book offers a perspective on what drives these women to move against the state.Saksena does not judge them for their decisions or paint them as victims who were forced into something against their wishes. The women are matter-of-fact about why they did what they did, whether it is Ruhi crossing over to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir or Bhima becoming a Naxal motivator in Chhattisgarh or Avu Featuring 16 women militants from five Indian states — Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland — the book offers a perspective on what drives these women to move against the state.Saksena does not judge them for their decisions or paint them as victims who were forced into something against their wishes. The women are matter-of-fact about why they did what they did, whether it is Ruhi crossing over to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir or Bhima becoming a Naxal motivator in Chhattisgarh or Avuli Chishi Swu making an arduous trek from Nagaland to China for training. The militant movement in each State has its own complexities and history. A reader with no idea of the background will find the going tedious and repetitive. The book makes one see, just a little more clearly, that men and women with guns, against the State, are still just people. They have fears, they have insecurities, they love, and they ache too. recommended >>>>

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aparajita Raychaudhury

    This book tried too hard. You know the kind of people who bend over backwards to please you, and you want to be pleased, but they try so hard that they're just annoying? That's what the book felt like. The women profiled here were definitely interesting and diverse. I loved how there were all sorts - from one who barely became a militant to one who has risen to the highest circles, ones who loved being back in the mainstream and ones who missed being underground, ones who fought for ideology to o This book tried too hard. You know the kind of people who bend over backwards to please you, and you want to be pleased, but they try so hard that they're just annoying? That's what the book felt like. The women profiled here were definitely interesting and diverse. I loved how there were all sorts - from one who barely became a militant to one who has risen to the highest circles, ones who loved being back in the mainstream and ones who missed being underground, ones who fought for ideology to ones who fought because they had nothing better to do. They all had interesting stories to tell. The women sounded sincere, and the author did a good job keeping her opinions out of the way while telling their stories. In fact, this book would have been top notch if it were just a straight up interview or personal-profile of various women who have worked to subvert the State one way or the other (honestly, terming women who were merely couriers as 'militant' feel a bit much). Where the book tried too hard, and failed, was in connecting the narratives. For example, the author tried to show how militancy progressed over the years in Kashmir - the women's stories were arranged chronologically, and the author spent a lot of words between the women's stories talking about how the nature of militancy, and the environment, changed over the years. But that narrative didn't flow organically, it felt a needless distraction from the women's stories and I did not learn much about the wider conflict at all. The book was also unsatisfying in its social analysis. The obvious pieces were pretty interesting - for example how Naxals and Islamic groups treated women in their ranks differently. But the deeper analyses, like women's motives for picking up a gun, felt too neat - it felt like the author was generalizing way too much, or getting unduly biased by her own preconceptions. The book would have been better if more pages was devoted to showing how and why the author came to the conclusions she did. Overall though I would recommend giving this a read - there just aren't many other books on women's role in the modern Indian conflicts. At the very least, you will hear some interesting stories! Read for the challenge prompts - PopSugar Reading Challenge - A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover Around the Year in 52 Books - 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #4 Something Blue

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mriga Bansal

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alokita

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ashim Chowla

  6. 5 out of 5

    Soumya Ranjan

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kashmira

  8. 4 out of 5

    Navneet

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sukumar Honkote

  10. 4 out of 5

    Meenakshi

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heramb

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

  13. 4 out of 5

    Speaking Tiger Books

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shweta Menon

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aishwarya

  16. 5 out of 5

    Janakiram

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mustafa Ali

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Murtha

  19. 5 out of 5

    Toshi Parmar

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sharanya Subramaniam

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alok

  22. 4 out of 5

    Suriti

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sapna

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rithika Shenoy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anithra

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ronak Gupta

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diya

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pratiksha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amala Tes Bonnie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kshitij Vengurlekar

  31. 5 out of 5

    Anagha M.

  32. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  33. 5 out of 5

    P

  34. 4 out of 5

    Sowmya Ashok

  35. 4 out of 5

    Sagnika Halder

  36. 5 out of 5

    Bhavani de Castro

  37. 4 out of 5

    Arun Bhagra

  38. 4 out of 5

    Петр

  39. 5 out of 5

    Shonali

  40. 4 out of 5

    Namrata Rajendra

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