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More women join tribes heading for mountains

Luv Puri

Signal return of peace in Jammu and Kashmir

— Photo: Luv Puri

THE MUGHAL ROUTE: A tribal woman in traditional costume on her trek to the mountains.

Thanna Mandi: With the onset of spring, the famous meadows of Thanna Mandi in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir have become the resting place for the nomadic tribes headed for the mountains.

This time the clans camping here include more women, signalling the return of peace to the State. Situated on the foothills of the mighty Pir Panjal, this is the ancient route traversed by the Mughals. The same foot trek is used by the tribes.

Militancy affected the lifestyle of the tribes, particularly the women. Due to the presence of militants in the higher reaches, many women, along with their children, stayed back in the lower altitudes even during summer. This time the trend has changed.

Khurshid Bi, a tribal woman says: “I am joining the rest of the clan after eight years. I avoided the trek in the recent years due to the fear factor.” Not only the women are back to their regular duties but even the traditional colourful dress has returned.

In December 2002, militants enforced the veil on the women of the district. The militants’ writ had an impact, and for the first time the veil became the norm, before the campaign fizzled out.

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