Kashmir: Children of Conflict

Irtif Lone

On a Saturday evening, while sipping some hot tea at a not-so-famous tea stall along with few friends and discussing a range of things from MH370 which had went missing and whose whereabouts are still not known. In the age where science has tagged everything like that on facebook, a plane carrying some 239 people has vanished in air. The argument is totally based on the logic that nothing of the plane or the people on board has been found.

And the topics of which new movies had released and which of them were worth watching. Somehow suddenly through all this a friend brought in the topic, “Children of Conflict”. And the issue has been discussed thread bare, and to stress on the point that we have only discussed. The point remains, that almost everybody in Kashmir, who was brought in Kashmir and did not leave the state and stayed through the conflict had at one or the other time been harassed or subjected to utter humiliation.

Being born in mid eighties meant that by the time we were beginning to understand the things around us while the armed struggle for right to self determination had already started and so had the display of military might, India had. And that made our lives, of the children living through these times different from the children who lived elsewhere.

The earliest memories that we have are of the crack-downs, of being called through public addressing system in Masjid and being asked to assemble and then being queued to get frisked and identities checked. And the remembrance of being caught in cross-fire and running for life. And the news of hearing young people die, somehow was a part of life, and dead had just become a number; nobody could remember the names for there were so many.

And somewhere in later years of my life, when I went outside Kashmir to study for short period of time, I stressed so much on having the Identity Card, before I went home for holidays. That news spread like a fire in the institution and only after that did I realise that it meant nothing more than a travel document to get concessional rates when they along with parents would go on a holiday, but for me and many young Kashmiri boys it was the life line, that would save you the individual humiliation of being interrogated on the road or even being slapped or kicked by the illiterate guard, who most of the times couldn’t even read the name on the card.

Conflict has affected almost every house hold in the valley, directly or indirectly. Children who have lost one or both the parents have been the worst hit, with not many people talking about them. Or even the children, almost everybody who had to go through the collective humiliation at each and every point of life. Right from those long queues of checking and frisking to having to sit in crack downs for hours together under the open sky.

All this has had an everlasting effect on the children of Kashmir conflict, who have been exposed to such violence and have still learned to survive and many who have done good for themselves and the society but the marks which the violence has left on all of us are not erasable. It somehow has affected the way we think. And through all the discussions we have and make points of argument, Kashmir tops the list, even if one is at a place thousands of miles away from Kashmir.


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