Amidst the turmoil, Kashmir’s only woman ‘Bat-maker’ is scripting saga of her own
From the ashes of conflict has emerged the story of Rifat Masoodi, who is the first woman to own a cricket bat manufacturing unit in Jammu and Kashmir.
Rifat has merely picked up after her father-in-law, who had started a bat-manufacturing unit, in the 1970’s. However, beginning in the late 80s, the escalation of the Kashmir insurgency, saw many businesses slowly come apart, including the one started by him.
In 1999, 21-year-old Rifat decided to revive the unit. The decision came from inspiration provided former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who went on a bus journey to Pakistan. Rifat told, how Vajpayee’s efforts at fostering peace brought a sense of calm and normalcy to Kashmir. That led to a renewed wave of interest in Kashmiri products, from buyers nationwide.
Rifat started from scratch, making calls to Indian buyers, even offering wholesale customers free stay at the Masoodi residence.
By her own admission to Kashmir Box, Rifat was married very young into a conservative family that didn’t approve of women working outside the confines of the home. However, she states that her venture received complete support from everyone, especially her husband, Showkat Masoodi, a forest department employee who quit his job and became a full-time football coach in 2010.
Rifat’s business model is quite simple. The raw material comes from Pampore Mandi, and once procured, the entire process is carried out under her watchful eye.
Breaking the stereotypes of the society of women being limited within their homes, Rifat said,
It is challenging to manage it at times, but I am used to it now. I feel very attached to my work. We send bats to cities like Mumbai and mostly sell with our name
Rifat uses the famous Kashmir Willow wood, a well-known material for its soft and lightweight properties. From getting the raw material from the source to maintaining the line of communication with her suppliers from other states, Rifat is the sole player in her business.
With only 10 members in her unit, the production doesn’t slow down at any time. If the demand rises, she hires an extra hand to meet the demand. Besides cricket bats, Rifat also manufactures tennis racquets and seasoned bats.
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