The discourse of loyalty produces tense predicaments for those living under counterinsurgency regimes. The essay explores this theme by analyzing the case of a Kashmiri woman who found herself in a political drama when she accepted “blood money” from the person accused of causing her husband's death. The woman's decision accompanied moral turmoil in her village, and rumors of her “betrayal” circulated. However, the turmoil threatened to go beyond this localized setting. It brought to fore the fraught implications of “loyalty” shaped by India's occupation in Kashmir, its nationalist staging of Kashmiris as the subversive other, and schisms within Kashmir's historical independence movement. By tracing how rumors of individual betrayal were laced onto narratives of political treason in the case, the essay reveals the counterinsurgency as the operative context of broken intimate and intercommunity relations in which the personal is always at the threshold of becoming intensely public.

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