Rifat Masoodi is Kashmir’s first woman who owns a cricket bat manufacturing unit in Jammu and Kashmir. She is Kashmir’s only woman cricket bat maker and is popularly known as ‘Batwoman’. The manufacturing units are set up in Awantipora, Anantnag, and Pampore.
The stone-pelting by civilians and face-offs between radical Kashmiris and security forces didn’t stop Rifat Masoodi from dreaming big.
A 40-year old mother of two broke the stereotypes by earning a name in a male-dominated profession.
Here is how it all began:
It began in 1999 when the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee went on a bus journey to Pakistan.
“His efforts at fostering peace brought a sense of calm and normalcy to Kashmir as well. There was renewed interest in Kashmiri products among buyers across the country,” says Rifat.
Her father-in-law started the business in 1970. Due to the coming of insurgency in the 1990s, the business had crumbled. After his death, Rifat took over the business and was willing to restart it even when her family was against it. Her husband, a football coach also supported her later.
The reviving business of ‘Batwoman’:
It was a difficult task to manage a bat manufacturing unit for a sport that is widely played in India. But she is satisfied with her small business which produces 1,500 bats a year and has a loyal customer base.
The famous Kashmir Willow wood is used to make the bats and it is also known for its soft and lightweight properties.
There are only 10 members in her unit. If there is an increase in the number of orders, she hires more people to meet the demand. She has tried contacting every Indian buyer who had shown any interest in Kashmir bats.
People around her didn’t like the idea of her restarting the business but later they started supporting her.
The systems in Kashmir are working more in discouraging a business idea than facilitating it and starting a business is a difficult job.
“In the beginning, people, including women, used to dislike my venture. But when they realized Kashmir needed business beyond tourism, apples, and apricots, they agreed that there was no problem with cricket bats and women making them,” says Rifat.
She would love to see Team India use their bats and also wants PM Modi to waive off the 12% GST.
Rifat says, “It is a myth that Kashmiris support only Pakistan when there is a cricket match with India. I love Indian players. In fact, when we started in 2000, it was Dravid, Ganguly and, Tendulkar who inspired me. But that does not mean one can’t like a good Pakistani fast bowler.”
Being a woman entrepreneur, she managed to handle the business in the middle of terrorism and an unsafe environment. From receiving the orders to getting the raw materials, she is the sole player in the business.
Image Credits: Google Images