Nearly all conversations in Kashmir start this way. They begin with words like identity, territory, self-determination, India, Pakistan, conflict, violence, terror, Army, AFSPA, jehadi, azaadi. Then come stories of loss, violence, memory, valor, homes, exile and homecoming. Then there is subterfuge, denial followed by conspiracies, politics and comparison of loss, victimhood. And then it’s all forgotten, till it repeats itself. My reportage from Kashmir has centered on the unimaginable impact of conflict. The three documentaries that follow were reported and produced during the period of 2006-2014. Children of Conflict, Kashmir-Destiny’s Child and Kashmir, After Afzal all expose the fault lines that allow and perpetuate the cycle of violence
- Children of Conflict: Children of Conflict was made with a grant from the Commonwealth Broadcasting Organisation to showcase the impact of conflict on children, how violence enters their vocabularies, how guns become toys and curfews and bandhs become holidays. How violence and a polarizing landscape puts the greatest pressure on children to conform.
- Kashmir, Destiny’s Child
A boy in Kashmir walks towards an armed soldier, a stone in his hand. The difference in power is only too visible. The stone pelters best shot gives the solider a deep wound, a stitch, in some cases, even a lost eye. The soldiers best shot, a gun or teargas shell, leaves the boy dead or seriously wounded. This documentary was made in 2010 at the peak of what was called the stone pelting times, when death became child’s play and when youngsters fought the armed forces with stones in the streets of Kashmir. Watch the documentary and a discussion with young Kashmiris on why they picked up the stone.
- Kashmir, After Afzal: This award winning documentary was made in the aftermath of the execution of Afzal Guru, the man convicted for the attack on Indian Parliament. I was in Kashmir, on a different assignment when news of the impending execution first came in the wee hours of February, 9, 2013. I reported on the story but returned to Kashmir, months later to further document the aftermath of that sudden hanging. The documentary is on the ibnlive.com . Kashmir, After Fazal went on to win the Runners Up Award at the Red Ink Awards.