Growing Up in Kashmir

— #KashmirBeyondCliches —
Photos: Abid Bhat, Sajad Rafeeq, Syed Shahriyar

“Imagine what children in Kashmir are going through day after day. Seeing dead bodies, hearing gunfire and explosions. And imagine how drastically it is affecting their young minds,” Dr Arshad Hussain, a noted psychiatrist in the valley told us.

He said the trauma faced by the kids in Kashmir was more severe than anything he’d seen in the last two decades of his practice.

To understand what it is like for a child to grow up in such turbulent times, we take a look at the work of three photojournalists from Kashmir. In their own ways they perceive the vulnerabilities, the anger, anxiety, mischievousness, fear and single-mindedness of the valley’s children.

A boy playing with a soldier in downtown Srinagar. (Abid Bhat - August, 2017)

A boy playing with a soldier in downtown Srinagar.

“Amid heavy stone pelting this kid came out of nowhere and started playing with this paramilitary soldier.”

(Abid Bhat - August, 2017)

A girl walking with a book in Srinagar. (Abid Bhat - August, 2016)

A girl walking with a book in Srinagar.

“Private tuition centres compensated for schools shut down because of indefinite curfew. This girl was walking to one such centre.”

(Abid Bhat - August, 2016)

A little boy preparing to throw stones at forces. (Abid Bhat - May, 2017)

A little boy preparing to throw stones at forces.

“Away from a group of stone throwers clashing with forces in Srinagar, this little boy was also preparing for a face-off.”

(Abid Bhat - May, 2017)

A child being made to do sit-ups. (Abid Bhat - March, 2017)

A child being made to do sit-ups.

“Heavy stone throwing was going on in Srinagar. This boy, whom paramilitary forces suspected of throwing stones, was made to do sit-ups.”

(Abid Bhat - March, 2017)

Four friends sitting on the banks of Dal Lake on the outskirts of Srinagar.(Sajad Rafeeq - December 2016)

Four friends sitting on the banks of Dal Lake on the outskirts of Srinagar.

“The boys told me that the whole city was placed under curfew and since they had nowhere else to go, they found this hideout on the banks of Dal.”

(Sajad Rafeeq - December, 2016)

A girl in Shopian hiding her face. (Sajad Rafeeq - February 2017)

A girl in Shopian hiding her face.

“When I asked this little girl in South Kashmir to pose for a photo, she buried her face in her hands.”

(Sajad Rafeeq - February 2017)

Boy burning Chinar leaves on the banks of Dal. (Sajad Rafeeq - September 2016)

Boy burning Chinar leaves on the banks of Dal.

“During autumn, dried Chinar leaves are burnt to make charcoal. Which is what this boy was doing as schools were shut because of the unrest.”

(Sajad Rafeeq - September 2016)

A boy waiting for rain to end. (Sajad Rafeeq - August 2016)

A boy waiting for rain to end.

“It was about 5:30 in the evening in South Kashmir. Kids here are supposed to return home by dusk. Like me, this kid was stuck in a shop.”

(Sajad Rafeeq - August 2016)

A boy in front of a graffiti, made by a local woman artist, in Anantnag. (Syed Shahriyar - October, 2016)

A boy in front of a graffiti, made by a local woman artist, in Anantnag.

“When I was clicking the photo of the graffiti, the boy just happened to walk in the frame.”

(Syed Shahriyar - October, 2016)

Boys playing carom inside a graveyard in Hassanabad.(Syed Shahriyar - September 2016)

Boys playing carom inside a graveyard in Hassanabad.

“Soon after Burhan Wani’s death, schools were shut and curfew was imposed in the valley. These children found escape in local graveyard.”

(Syed Shahriyar - September 2016)

(A part of #KashmirBeyondCliches series)

Read more stories from #KashmirBeyondCliches series

(Cover photo: Getty Images)


Produced by: Aishwarya Kumar & Sheikh Saaliq