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Showing posts with label Photo Essays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Photo Essays. Show all posts

Kashmir: A wounded Paradise

By Faisal Magray

The Kashmir conflict continues to be unresolved after more than six decades, fuelling the conventional and nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan and bleeding their economy.  Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the two gained independence from British rule in 1947.  Both the nations claim the territory in full. Several rebel groups have for decades fought Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence for the region or its merger with Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting. The insurgency in  Kashmir began in 1989 and ongoing armed conflict  has claimed a total of 41,000 lives in the past 27 years which means an average of 4 deaths per day in the state or 1519 casualties every year, according to the latest available government data, Hindustan Times reported in 2017.































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Education In Shambles

By Faisal Magray

Government Schools in Kashmir work in the rented buildings ranging from a single room to three rooms, whether  owned or rented, almost all are dilapidated. Information revealed by the Directorate of School Education shows that there are 11633 Government schools in Kashmir division. This exceeds the number of villages, which stand at around 5,000. Most of the Government school buildings are rented, and few are government owned. Total enrollment in these schools is 10.23 Lacs out of which 5.73 lacs are Male students and 4.50 lacs are female. Most of the students who are enrolled in these schools belong to less privileged sections of society.

The picture is grimmer in the schools of Kashmir valley. Poor infrastructure continues to mar the performance of government schools, parents who are economically backward are sending their wards to these institutions. The government is not putting proper effort into streamlining the management of these schools.The economic survey report tabled recently in Jammu Kashmir state legislative  assembly revealed that the number of dilapidated schools across Jammu and Kashmir doubled in just one year from 474 to 948.

Majority of the Government schools in Kashmir Division lack basic infrastructure like toilets, washrooms, and play grounds, furniture, libraries etc. School children are worst sufferers, they often do the job of cleaning and sweeping the school premises. They lay mats on the floor in the morning and roll them off every evening. The reason there are no sweepers in schools so the burden shifts to the children.

The common trend in Kashmir is that majority of parents who are economically wealthy, are admitting their wards to private schools which are said to have better facilities than those run by government. Lack of infrastructure apart, outdated teaching methods, outdated books, and the absence of libraries for children are other factors responsible for the trend.

 General view of the government school operating in a  collapsed building in Srinagar, Kashmir. Inside, the condition of school is equally worse, the school is in shambles and teachers say the building could collapse any time.

 General view of the five reeking classrooms, separated by plywood sheets, crammed in a 20-square-meter hall under a rusted roof with no ceiling at government school in Srinagar, Kashmir. Cracked walls, inside and out, and stains caused by seeping water. Due to a lack of playgrounds and libraries, student at government schools stay indoors during their breaks.  In some of the government schools, responsibilities usually performed by cleaning staff are performed by the school children.

 Kashmiri children take part in a lesson at a government school operating in a rented building in Srinagar, Kashmir.  Classrooms are not enough to accommodate the 50 students from nursery to class 8th, in every room there two to three sections from different grades and when teachers simultaneously impart lesson, there is a complete chaos.

 A lone student studies in a class room in a government school in Srinagar, Kashmir. In some of the government schools, responsibilities usually performed by cleaning staff are performed by the schoolchildren.

 Kashmiri children take part in a lesson at a government school operating in a rented building in Srinagar, Kashmir.  Classrooms are not enough to accommodate the 50 students from nursery to class 8th, in every room there two to three sections from different grades and when teachers simultaneously impart lesson, there is a complete chaos.

      A student cleaning the classroom in a rented government school building in Srinagar, Kashmir. The students are the worst sufferers as school lacks sweeper.

Students attending class in a government school in Srinagar, Kashmir. The school has no seating arrangements for students and they sit on dusty jute mats. In the absence of toilet, the students and teachers have to knock adjacent residential homes.

Students play carom board on slab in a government school in Srinagar, Kashmir. The school also does not have playground and a slab adjacent to the school provides escape for the curricular activities of children.

 A student reads a paper in a class room in a government school in Srinagar, Kashmir. School is functioning from a crimpled, dilapidated hall of commercial building and lacks basic facilities like drinking water and toilet.

Students taking mid-day meals at government school operating in rented building in  Srinagar, Kashmir. Barring a couple of blackboards, chairs, and table, the school has no seating arrangements for students forcing them to sit on dusty jute mats.

 Students doing class work in a government school in Srinagar, Kashmir. The walls of the class room are cracked and buckets replace chairs when rains seep through the leaking roof.

 Teachers lead their classes in a single room of a government school operating in a rented building in Srinagar, Kashmir. The room  has been partitioned by school staff  to give space for two cramped classrooms that holds two sections of students from different grades.
Students wait outside class room in a government school in Srinagar, Kashmir.  The staircase which leads to the school is on the verge of collapse, and due to the paucity of space the staff has carved out an office by partitioning the hall with cupboards.

      A student stands near his class room during a break in government school in  Srinagar, Kashmir. 
 The students in government schools suffer and most of them drop education at early stage.



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Ashura


By  Faisal Magray

The day of Ashura is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shia Muslims it is a major religious commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein (A.S.), a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a solemn day of mourning the martyrdom of Hussein (A.S.) in 680 AD at Karbala in modern-day Iraq. It is marked with mourning rituals and passion plays re-enacting the martyrdom.

Shia men and women dressed in black also parade through the streets slapping their chests and chanting.  Some Shia men seek to emulate the suffering of Hussein (A.S.) by flagellating themselves with chains or cutting their foreheads until blood streams from their bodies.
Some Shia leaders and groups discourage the bloodletting, saying it creates a backward and negative image of Shia Muslims. Such leaders encourage people to donate blood.

Devout  Shiite men  beat their chests as they mark Ashura in Down town area of Srinagar, Kashmir. Ashura falls on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein (A.S.), who was killed in 680 A.D. during the battle of Karbala.
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Kashmir Intifada

 By  Faisal Magray

For four months following June 2010, the Kashmir valley was torn by mass protests - locally called the uprising or intifada -which were met with overwhelming force by Indian security forces. Curfews and closures were frequent, often shading into each other. Hundreds were killed and thousands injured. But there are also cases where mourners and even people engaged in daily activities have been indiscriminately fired upon.

Currently occupied by over 7,00,000 army, police and paramilitary personnel, the valley maintains the world’s highest concentration of soldiers, outnumbering all other conflict zones including Afghanistan, Burma and Iraq. Kashmir witnessed over a hundred twenty violent deaths during  summer unrest , known in some circles as the "second uprising" for freedom. In most cases, lethal force was applied against unarmed civilians — protestors, mourners, mere bystanders, or those who inadvertently got drawn into the cycle of protests. The pattern was similar in all parts of the valley, whether rural or urban. Instances were rife of the armed forces firing on unarmed assemblies or protests.

The story of injuries suffered through Kashmir's long months of unrest is in many ways as shocking as the story of the deaths. The official figure is that as many as 515 persons were injured between June and mid-October 2010; the actual numbers are likely to be many more. In the SMHS hospital records, the following categorisation of injuries had been made: bullet injury; pellet injury, firearm injury, tear gas burn, trauma, scalp injury, beating injuries, near drowning, eye injury, and stone pelting injuries. Present essay is a compilation of what I witnessed during kashmir Unrest, be it an Strict curfew day, Oppression, a dreadful night, powerful protests, the death of an innocent people, or children playing cricket.

An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard near a barbed wire fence during a curfew imposed in Srinagar,Kashmir.
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Annual Urs at Sufi Shrine


By Faisal Magray

The annual Urs – death anniversary— of revered Kashmiri saint, Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom (RA) is observed every year on the 24th of Safar, the second month in the Islamic calendar, with fervor and gaiety. Hazrat Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom sahib, popularly known as Makdoom Sahib and Sultan-Ul-Arifeen meaning ‘King of Gnostics’, is highly revered by Kashmiri muslims and his shrine located on the southern side of the Hari Parbhat hill in downtown Srinagar Kashmir , is thronged by thousands of people during the 13-day Urs.

Sufi Saint had played a vital role in the diffusion of religious and spiritual education, social and political consciousness among Kashmiri muslims. He inherited the mysticism, from the very childhood was inclined to the company of holy men, and to the truth. Kashmiri Muslims have been paying obeisance at the shrine for nearly 500 years now.

He not only guided people in religious studies but there are thousands who were benefited from his spiritual powers.  Apart from the annual Urs, thousands of people visit the shrine usually on thursdays and mondays, besides every 13th of the Islamic calendar to pay obeisance.

   General view of the  Makhdoom Sahib Shrine which  is located on the southern side of Hari Parbat Hill in  Srinagar  kashmir . The  shrine  is double storied, in the name of the Sufi saint Makhdoom Sahib  popularly    known as  Sultan-Ul-Arifeen. Thousands of Kashmiri Muslims who believe in Sufism    throng the shrine  to offer prayers.
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Kashmir’s Curfew Village

 By  Faisal Magray


When Kashmir was burning in the summer uprising of 2010, Palhalan, a village in Baramulla district, 30 km north of Srinagar, embodied that anger. As life returns to a fatigued normalcy in most parts of the Valley, Palhalan still reeled under military control, earning it the epithet of Kashmir’s ‘curfew village.’

Cut off from the rest of the Valley, Palhalan was subjected to two-and-a-half months of curfews, including 39 days at a stretch. Its phone lines were snapped, mobile phone services disabled and outsiders barred. As the death count rose, there were reports of molestations, looting, mosques being ransacked and boys being picked up from paddy fields during work.

Ten people had succumbed to armed forces firing in the area during 2010 uprising. More than 90 have been wounded and hundreds have been arrested.  The village has been caught up in months of violent protests that have roiled Kashmir. In 2010 an uprising  left over 120 people dead and thousands injured. Youngsters daub anti-India slogans on walls, yell at Indian police and soldiers to “go home”, and hurl stones.


 Family of  Adil ramzan sheikh, a student, who was shot dead by government forces during 2010 summer uprising inside a district hospital in Pattan area of North Kashmir.


Mother of Adil Ramzan Sheikh, a student who was shot dead by government forces inside a district hospital.

The mother of Feroz Ahmed Malik, 21,  alias Showkat who was shot dead on Lailat al Qadr, ( the Night of Power, marks the night in which the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad SAW by Allah) on 06, September, 2010. Over a month after Adil’s killing two vehichles carrying police and CRPF personnel came out charging in Trantraypora village and began firing indiscriminately at shopkeepers , passerby ,not even sparing women and children. The causality of unprovoked firing was 21 years old Feroz Ahmed Malik.

The family of Mohammad Ashraf Mir is still in a state of mourning. Ashraf , a carpet weaver ,was shot dead while rescuing his children from the wrath of forces on the fateful day. Ashraf s Widow Fatima (center) with her children is suffering from severe depression since his death.

Raja Begum , the mother of 28 year-old Ansar Ullah Tantray, an MA English student who was shot dead outside the Abu Alla mosque in Phalhalan area of North Kashmir. The Abu Alla Mosque ,where ansar was shot dead - with the bullets marks on its walls ,broken windows and shattered glass panes –bears witness to the dance of death and destruction hat played havoc in the village on the fateful day.

       The family of  Ali Mohammad Waza, 31, Who was shot dead by the soldiers when he peeped out of the main entrance during a curfew in Phalhalan  area of North Kashmir.        

Ghulam Mohammad Waza , the father of  Ali Mohammad Waza, 31, who was shot dead by the soldiers when he peeped out of the main entrance during a curfew in Phalhalan  area of North Kashmir.  He doesn’t remember the day he married ,nor does he remember the day his eldest son Ali Mohammad was born. All he remembers is the seven minutes that changed the course of the waza family’s life.

Portrait of four- year-old Tehmeena, daughter of Ali Mohammad Waza, 31, who was shot dead by the soldiers when he peeped out of the main entrance. Tehmeena tries, unsuccessfully ,to make sense of the sequence of  event that led to her father’s death.

Family of Mudasir Ahamed Mir, 20, who was shot dead during a protest demonstration in Phalhalan area of North Kashmir.  “He wanted to die a martyr. His wish was fulfilled ,but a mother lost her son forever,”says his mother Fatima.


   Father of Mohammad Ashraf Mir, a carpet weaver, who was shot dead by government forces during 2010 summer uprising in Phalhalan  area of North Kashmir.

The family of 23 year-old Noor-ud -din Tantray ,who was shot dead while trying to help an injured youth to hospital in Phalhalan area of North Kashmir. Two hours later, he died at the SKIMS hospital in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Administered Kashmir due to blood loss.

Mother of Noor-ud-din Tantray who was shot dead while trying to help an injured youth to hospital in Phalhalan area of North Kashmir.

                                                 Martyrs grave yard at Phalhalan Pattan in North Kashmir.

                 General view of  Palhalan village in North Kashmir.


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