NEW DELHI: Kanta Wazir was pursuing her FA (Fellow of Arts) in 1947-48 when she was influenced by the progressive ideology and joined the Women’s Self Defense Corps (WSDC), the women’s wing of the National militia. The WSDC was raised during the turbulent times when Pakistan-led tribal raiders invaded Jammu and Kashmir. With zeal to serve the motherland, Kanta Wazir – born in Srinagar in 1930 – joined the women’s militia and enlisted herself for training in the use of firearms. Empowerment of women was a major concern when the raiders, commanded by Major General Akbar Khan of the Pakistan army, crossed the border and entered Muzaffarabad on October 22, 1947. Hence, came up the exclusive militia (WSDC) to save lives as well as the honour of women. The intended role of Women’s Self Defense Corps was to train women in the use of firearms so as to defend themselves against the raiders. Wazir shunned away the conservative ideology of the traditional Kashmir society and turned this challenge into an opportunity to serve the common mission of defending women’s honour and dignity by bearing arms. Kanta Wazir, along with other volunteers, got her training in use of firearms including shooting with 303 rifles, sten guns, Bren guns and pistols at Gole Bagh, later named Usman Zanana Park after Brigadier Usman – the hero of the Battle of Jhangar. She became a popular name in the first battalion of women militia named as Mukta battalion. Known for her sharpshooting, Wazir displayed her marksmanship in several firing competitions. Her expertise even entitled her to three packets of salt, a rare commodity in Srinagar in 1947 because of the economic blockade caused by Pakistan which led to the suspension of the supply of essential commodities in Jammu and Kashmir. Kanta Wazir along with other militia women delivered basic humanitarian services to dislocated individuals and families who thronged to seek shelter in Srinagar city. They also went to offer support and look after women who were raped and molested. In the 1990s, Wazir along with her family shifted to New Delhi.
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