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  • Kashmir: A Stone’s Throw, an Endless Wait
  • Showkat Nanda (bio)

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The shadow of a Kashmiri protester is visible against a wall tagged with graffiti that reads, “Go India Go Back.”

PHOTOGRAPHS AND ESSAY BY SHOWKAT NANDA

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A young man is arrested by Indian security after he was injured by a rubber bullet during a demonstration. The protests erupted after a gunfight between Indian soldiers and suspected militants.

BARAMULLA, Kashmir—The protests have been raging since last week. The Indian army and police have already shot dead five people in Handwara, a small town about 18 miles from here. One of the deceased, a 22-year-old young man, was a promising cricketer; another, an elderly woman. As I write this, I can hear the deafening sound of exploding teargas canisters and stun grenades fired by the Indian security forces at Kashmiri protesters in [End Page 44]


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A Kashmiri woman shouts at an Indian policeman during a protest that erupted following a gun battle where Indian security forces shot dead two alleged Kashmiri militants.


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A man tries to jump from a bus after Indian soldiers opened fire on the protesters on a highway leading to the Pakistani city Muzzaffarabad. Six protesters, including a top separatist leader, were killed in the confrontation.

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my hometown, Baramulla, in North Kashmir. The crisis started when locals took to the streets after an Indian soldier allegedly molested a Kashmiri teenage girl.

None of this is new. For more than two decades, Kashmir has been caught in a bloody conflict where India has not only been fighting a war with armed militants but also maintaining control over the local population. The anti-India sentiment runs deep in the Kashmir Valley.

According to legend, a Persian emperor overwhelmed by the natural beauty called Kashmir, “a paradise on earth,” but over the last 26 years, Kashmir has been reduced to a land of pain and misery. Since the armed insurgency broke out against Indian rule in 1989, more than 90,000 people have died. There are thousands of orphans and widows. Incarceration, rape, and torture have become routine.


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Teenagers hang out in one of Ciutat Meridiana’s parks in June 2010. Youth unemployment in the neighborhood stands at more than 50 percent.

Indian policemen run amid teargas smoke during a protest in North Kashmir.

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Indian policemen run amid teargas smoke during a protest in North Kashmir.

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Musaib, a 13-year-old Kashmiri boy, masks himself as he prepares to throw stones at Indian soldiers during a demonstration in Indian-administered Kashmir.


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Sixteen-year-old Omer, left, and his 13-year-old brother, Suhail, stand in what once was the emergency room of a hospital in North Kashmir. Their faces are in partial shadow to conceal their identities. They have both been accused of throwing stones at government forces and are wanted by the police.

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Khalid Nissar, a 12-year-old Kashmiri boy, stands with a toy rifle.

Amid this chaos, nearly 8,000 Kashmiris have “disappeared.” According to human rights groups, most of these men went missing after Indian forces picked them up. With no trace of their whereabouts, families spend their days wondering if they will see their loved ones again. The discovery of mass gravesites in recent years has added to the fear and uncertainty of those who continue to search for their family members. The situation is common enough that there is a term, “half widow,” for women who do not know if their husbands are alive or dead.

Since the early 1990s, when the conflict had turned into a small-scale war, a repressive military campaign by India gradually crushed the armed rebellion. The face of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-0924
Print ISSN
0740-2775
Pages
pp. 42-55
Launched on MUSE
2016-06-15
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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