This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ashraf Lone. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Death, Devastation: Conflict In Kashmir Has Left Emotional Scars On Its Children

More from Ashraf Lone

Devastated.

That’s was my first reaction, when I saw the picture of a small child, sitting on the dead body of his grandfather, killed in crossfire between militants and forces in Sopore on July 1. Sopore, which is not only famous for its apples but also its graveyards. The graveyards are filled with the dead bodies of innocent people, children, women, young and old, killed in this decades-old armed war.

The image brought tears in my eyes. The image went viral in seconds and was compared with the picture of Aylan Kurdi who was photographed lying dead on the seashore. This brought forth the migrant crises, which have had arisen out of the wars fought in the middle east and Arab world. But, in that picture Aylan was dead, and in Sopore the child was alive, but sitting atop his grandfather’s dead body. He was alive but traumatised. The trauma will probably never leave him and might haunt him through his life.

The incident also reminded us of the killing of Palestinian child Muhammad Durra in September 2000, whose father tried to save him from Israeli bullets, taking several injuries. The image of screaming Durra behind his father is still etched in the memory of people and haunts them today. And today, pictures of encounters and crying, and children blinded by pellets in Kashmir continue to make headlines.

Kashmiri schools re-open, but classrooms remain empty © BBC Network

Kashmir is a disputed area and disturbed too. Peace is a far cry. Daily encounters, militant and civilian killings have ravaged Kashmir and its people. Every day some woman is rendered a widow, some child an orphan, some mother and father lose their child, some sister and brother lose their brother or sister, and some close friends in the cross-firing. Bullets fly every day and houses are raised to the ground within minutes and turned into rubble by IED blasts.

Schools, colleges, and universities in Kashmir have mostly been shut since August 5, 2019, when Kashmir was stripped of its semi-autonomy. There has not been any schooling since then. Children have been sitting at home and only a few could migrate to other places to study. Kashmiri children have suffered immensely on the education front. Then there is no proper internet connection and 2G internet is snapped for days whenever an encounter happens in some town or district.

Children in Kashmir have suffered psychologically and emotionally. Some have turned to drugs. Some have died by suicide and some have left their homes never to return. Some have been killed in mountains. Mothers are still waiting for their children to return to their homes.

Hundreds have seen their fathers’ and brothers’ coffins and they live and die with this trauma. Hundreds of children have been blinded by pellet guns in recent years. Many have been killed in recent mass protests.

Hundreds have been injured and rendered physically injured for life in cross-firing, IED, and grenade blasts. They suffer on every front. Some carry a stigma for life. Some live like corpses. There is smoke everywhere, hope is nowhere.

For a Kashmiri, to live another day is like to live another life.

The war has traumatized us all. Our daily lives are traumatising Everything is traumatising. Humanity seems dead in these times. Propaganda seems to win the battle. Empathy is nowhere, and our lives have been miserable in this unending war. We are treated as lesser mortals. Humanity seems dead when it comes to Kashmir and Kashmiris.

I have seen children crying, in the 1990s, whose brothers, cousins, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends were killed in cross-firing, encounters, and fake encounters, and at the hands of militants. And those whose dear ones died in forces’ custody. Whose brothers disappeared in custody; whose brothers and fathers were kept at undisclosed locations by both militants and forces and later only their dead bodies returned.

The daily lives of Kashmiris are a nightmare and traumatic beyond imagination. Representational image.

I and my cousins have cried a lot too during this time. I have seen my orphan niece crying and asking for her dead father, killed in militant infighting during the 1990s. I have seen my widowed sister and mother crying and living with this trauma. I have seen dear ones and friends disappear before my eyes, some taken away by forces and later killed, some killed by militants in rivalry, and some thrown into rivers and some into forests and mountains.

The trauma is still with me, and it is with every Kashmiri who has seen militancy of the 1990s closely and suffered at the hands of both forces and militants. The war has inflicted immense misery on us Kashmiris.

In the 1990s, I would daily hear that some people or children have been killed in a grenade attack, mine (IED) blast, firing (encounter). The scars are deep inside. The trauma is not going anywhere and still with me. Thousand of orphans, widows’, brothers’ and sisters’ cries still reverberate in my ears.

The haunting image of Sopore is a dark reminder of what Kashmiris are going through and have been since the early 1990s. The child in the picture has to bear this traumatic experience all his life. The daily lives of Kashmiris are a nightmare and traumatic beyond imagination. It was called paradise on earth some centuries ago, but it resembles hell today. The killing and blinding of children, young and old, and women have become the norm here. This has been happening for decades, and sadly and unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight.

About the author: Ashraf Lone, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Note: This article was first published here.  

Featured image for representation only.
You must be to comment.

More from Ashraf Lone

Similar Posts

By iProbono

By Purva Bharati Educational Trust

By Amoli Trust

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below