Gold 2017 / Editorial / Conflict (Non-Pro)

The endless winter of Kashmir

  • Photographer
    Camillo Pasquarelli
  • Prizes
    Gold in Editorial/Conflict, 2nd Place winner in Editorial

Friday afternoon. The prayer is just ended and the devotees turn away from Jamia Masjiid, the main mosque in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian army troops are deployed at the entrances and observe the young boys covering their faces among the crowd. The kanijung - local name of the stone-throwing - is about to begin. Within a few minutes the air becomes unbreathable. Numerous stun grenades explodes. From the shadows amid the clouds of tear gas raises a voice: "what do we want?". Hundreds of shadows answer vehemently: "azadi! azadi! "-"Freedom! Freedom! ": the main slogan of the kashmiri separatism. The message is delivered to the Indian invaders along with a shower of stones every friday afternoon. The young stone throwers grew up during the 90s, when an armed insurgency against the indian government was bloodily suppressed by the army. They witnessed brutal violence since they opened their eyes, therefore in the heart of this generation there is no doubt: : India is carrying out an unlawful occupation, only possible thanks to the 600.000 troops that make Kashmir one of the most militarized zone in the world. In the summer of 2016, the anger erupted again because of the death of Burhan Wani, the popular commander of a separatist armed group, killed by indian troops. A new season of protests, repression and martyrs ended without concrete results but with 90 dead and thousands injured. In Srinagar, disillusionment is in the air; new tombstones fill the graveyards and fighting with the stones seems no longer enough. Burhan Wani has become a central symbol of kashmiri struggle and now many young boys are ready to follow his path. Despite this fresh anger, sixty-eight years ago in Kashmir began an endless winter of suffering for the people who now lives in the hope of seeing one day flourishing the spring of azadi.