The Crusaders

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We thought they had arrived, but they feel that they still have miles to go before they sleep.

They are the ones who have a rebel in them. They are determined to show their mettle to the society they have been nurtured in. They chose to tread their own paths. They are the ones who have weathered many a challenging time and come out winners.

These are a few Kashmiri women who handle jobs that, till sometime back, would have been considered a purely a man’s domain. They are professional and the world around them knows and acknowledges it.

This diverse group is modern, forward looking, yet mature enough to realize the value of their roots and how to keep their Kashmiriyat alive. In fact, they admit that wherever in life they are today, they owe it to the place of their origin – Kashmir.



Raka Khashu, New Delhi

A postgraduate in Marketing, Raka is currently working as Director Marketing with an American Multinational. Born in Srinagar and spending early years there, her family moved to Delhi in 1990.

“The initial period was very tough, starting our lives from a scratch. But I am blessed to have the family that I do,” she says. She visited Kashmir in 2008 after 18 long years. Now she visits every six months. “How can I stay away from Tul Mul for long,” she says.

She says she misses noisy cricket sessions on Sundays with the cousins or a quiet evening studying with parents. “Language, food, festivals, and not to forget the Khatamband, the carpets and the shawls,” she says.

She gets sad about the fact that Kashmiri’s living outside somehow don’t take pride in their language and customs anymore. “While I understand that things will change and they should, things will evolve and rightly so – but to forget out mother tongue is unpardonable.” She says she loves it and is proud of it.



Fahmeeda Akhtar, Srinagar Airport

While it is still rare to find Kashmiri girls managing eateries, soft spoken and always smiling, Fahmeeda has taken the charge at an eatery at the departure lounge of Srinagar International Airport. Daughter of a farmer father and a housewife mother, Fahmeeda says the financial situation back home was her reason to work.

“I wanted to do my bit by towards the household.Once this job happened, there was no looking back for me,” she says. Hailing from Baramulla district, Fahmeeda is pursuing her studies from Women’s college, Nawakadal.

Although her job is demanding, which requires her to take care of the inventory, besides standing at the counter for the whole day, she says, “It is quite an experience.”

“I interact with many people from across the world who share their experience of Kashmir, while comparing it with other destinations they have visited,” she says.



Manorama (Dhar) Bakshi New Delhi

Manorama Bakshi does not believe in giving up on her dreams. . Born in a Kashmiri family, she is attached to her roots and tries her best to keep Kashmiri culture alive, while living far away from her place of birth.

Coming from a family of toppers, Manorama says she was more inclined towards communication. “In our family, studying science was a kind of a ritual. My father is still of the view that science as a subject improves one’s intelligence quotient. So, after finishing my graduation in science, I did a course in Journalism,” she shares.

Getting influenced by her parents who, she says, were “exceptionally good in parenting”, inspired her to follow her dream. She is currently working as Deputy Regional Coordinator, NRU at Ministry of health & Family Welfare where she responsible for giving technical support to Government of India at National, State, District & Block levels for implementing RMNCH+ A goals. Earlier she was the CEO of Urivi Vikram Charitable Trust where shewas responsible for “overseeing programs and wasinvolved in high-level decisions about policy and strategy of the organization.

She says she is proud of her origin, and wants to pass on the same pride to her kids. “I actively participate in my community events and make it a point to speak to or reach out to Kashmiris, be it a Pandit or Muslim, whenever and wherever I come across one,” she says.



Nirupama Kotru

After finishing her schooling from Delhi Public School, New Delhi,Nirupama, a Kashmiri born,did her graduation in Economics (Honours) from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and post graduation in Politics and International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

Currently she is the Director(Films) in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India. Circumstances forced her family to move out of Kashmir. “My father and his brothers moved to Delhi for financial reasons, after my grandfather died in a car accident in Srinagar,” she says. Despite having grown up in Delhi,she says she spent her entire childhood living in a joint family. “So we were never away from Kashmir.”

She visited Kashmir in 2012, after 25 long years. “There was something special in the air, which is hard to put down in words,” she says.

Nirupama is interested in writing, singing, reading and cinema.

Rabia Noor


Rabia Noor, Srinagar

Rabia Noor is an author based in Jammu and Kashmir.After pursuing active journalism for quite some years, she shifted her focus to academics.She has just completed her Doctorate in Mass Communication and Journalism from University of Kashmir.She has authored book titled ‘Business Leaders of Kashmir: A Series of Success Stories’ and some monographs.Currently she writes for daily Greater Kashmir.

Like most of the Kashmiri kids, she too wanted to be a doctor.“But as I grew up, I realized my real interest as well as my potential lied in media,” she says.She wishes Kashmiri Pandits return to the Valley, “which is their real home.”

She is looking forward to pursue her career in journalism and academics simultaneously. She also stresses upon the importance of keeping the traditions alive.

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Dimple (Kaul) Singh, USA

Dimple Kaul was one the few Kashmiri women to opt for Mechanical Engineering. “I wanted to test my own strengths and notions that girls are equally capable of holding grounds usually dominated by men,” she says. It was after she spent three months of internship at HMT Ranibagh, she was convinced about her decision. She calls her journey a “little erratic yet very interesting.”

Dimple, a mother of two, is currently working with Microsoft as a Senior Controller, and is based in the United States. She cherishes her memories of Kashmir. “I often think about the rich culture, proximity of relations and a carefree childhood. I cherish the moments spent watching my paternal grandma knitting and humming Kashmiri songs. I treasure my visits to my maternal grandparent’s home, which was an absolute delight.”

She feels connected to her roots and says the family celebrates traditions, sings and dances together. “We eat a lot of Kashmiri food too. This gives us a sense of community.”