Roots: A Tale of Jammu and Kashmir
The photo essay portrays life in Srinagar, the largest and capital city of the Indian state, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The images are from a visit to J&K in 2015. They intend to showcase a world of bright colours, pristine natural wonder and rich diversity.
This submission is by no means a commentary on the current political state of affairs in the region. Rather a distant reflection on the paradoxical world of J&K. The unfathomable reality of how a land so pristine and a community so passionate, could be fraught with such misfortune.
After decades of unrest flowing from territorial disputes between India and Pakistan, the Indian government, last month, decided to absolve J&K of its special geographical status, essentially inducing the state into the greater Indian constitution, like the other 28 states of India. From a Kashmiri perspective, this hallmark decision sadly makes J&K devoid of any chance of future sovereignty; a status the state and its people have yearned for since the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Today, Srinagar is lifeless. For locals, communication with the outside world has all-but ceased and the once burgeoning, lively streets are now only patrolled by federal officials.
My travels through J&K provided a spectacular insight into the Kashmiri culture. While influences from neighbouring Pakistan and India are apparent, the notion of being governed by either nation is a futile conversation with Kashmiris. “We are Kashmiri. We will always be Kashmiri”, they’ll tell you. To that end, communities emit undeniable sentiments towards their roots by enthusiastically informing visitors of their culture, specifically highlighting its uniqueness relative to India and Pakistan, and candidly discuss hope for a better, peaceful, future.