April 2016 News

The Third Woman Ruler Of State Since Medieval Times

3 April 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ishfaq Tantry

Srinagar: Peoples Democratic party chief Mehbooba Mufti, 56, who is set to succeed her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the first woman Chief Minister of the state will be the third woman ruler of Kashmir - the other two ruled during the medieval times. Kota Rani ruled the Kashmir region till 1339. Earlier, it was Didda, who ruled Kashmir from 958 AD to 1003 AD. Historians say both women rulers were considered 'very tough and strong rulers', who quelled and suppressed various revolts which threatened their throne. Both women espoused Hinduism. 'In Kashmiri history, Didda is considered the iron lady of the region. She ruled directly or indirectly for 52 years, the longest period. Besides, Kota Rani is also considered a strong ruler. She even successfully fought an external invasion of Kashmir,' says noted Kashmiri historian Prof Mohammad Ashraf Wani who teaches at the University of Kashmir. Wani is also the member of the Indian Council of Historical Research. Though it is difficult to compare Mehbooba Mufti with her medieval counterparts, given the fact that she operates in more 'modern and democratic settings' of contemporary Kashmir, experts point out that Mehbooba has her own stature and style of working, especially the way she has built the PDP since its formation in 1999 and the way she has carried herself in public. Apart from being an MLA or an MP, Mehbooba has not been seen in any administrative role so far. 'She had been operating under the shadow of her father till recently. What she actually is will be seen when she formally takes over the reins of the J&K Government as Chief Minister,' said Prof Wani, while pointing out that she will be the 'first woman ruler of the region in the modern times and third since medieval times' if she dons the mantle of Chief Minister of J&K. Saying both Didda and Kota Rani ruled Kashmir 'well in their own style and settings', noted political scientist Prof Noor Ahmad Baba is of the view that each woman ruler has to be judged in her own merit. 'Same is the case with Mehbooba, who needs to be judged on her own performance and merit,' said Prof Baba. He said that in medieval Kashmir, the style of governance was much different from what it is today, adding that in those times also, women occupied high spaces and were respected in Kashmiri society. 'If we see the woman rulers of contemporary times, particularly in South Asia, we have a lot of examples of woman performing as able and best leaders. Be it Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto or the Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan woman leaders, all of them have made their own mark,' Baba said, adding that Mehbooba Mufti as Chief Minister has to act and operate in a difficult setting. 'Ultimately she will be judged on her successes and failures,' he added.