Showing posts with label unrest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unrest. Show all posts

Aug 12, 2016

Trouble in Paradise - Continued

And so the unrest raged on during our Eid visit to Kashmir.
The internet was blocked, curfew was imposed, phones went dead, strikes were called, death tolls rose, injuries occurred, - pandemonium ensued.

Photo from newspaper Greater Kashmir

The newspapers were shut down but it isn't clear by whom. Probably because of unflattering photos like this one which appeared on the front page of the local newspaper Greater Kashmir. It was stated that this photo is of Indian security forces kicking a woman trying to retrieve an injured youth. (That pink figure on the ground is a woman.)

Photo from newspaper Greater Kashmir
Okay, let's get something clear here. The "pellets" being fired into crowds of protestors in Kashmir by Indian security forces are lead shot from a 12 gauge shotgun. This photo is a 14 year old girl from the south Kashmir village of Shopian whom is now permanently blinded, suffering numerous skull fractures, and pneumocephalus (a condition where air enters into the brain cavity) from these "pellets." Most of the "pellet" injuries seen at the local hospitals are directly to the head and face not extremities. I've not heard of "pellets" being used anywhere else in India against civilians by Indian security forces and in my opinion this practice only incites more violence in Kashmir. According to local doctors, at least 117 civilians were likely to lose their eyesight as a result of injuries caused by theses "pellets" as of July 25th. If you wish to read more about this situation you may do so herehere and here

What does one do when this sort of thing happens? Well, the big iron gate to the family compound is locked and one stays inside. Our family compound has a fifteen foot by thirty foot courtyard bounded by five buildings. The photo above is from the last remaining bit of the oldest house in the compound. That and the communal privy/bath house was to be my view during our stay.

The neighbors enjoyed staring at me (the foreigner) for hours from their window overlooking our courtyard. This part of old Srinagar is a maze of tiny alleyways with houses butted up closely to each other. Our compound is one of the few that has a large courtyard.

We had lots of leisure time for reading and playing games like badminton in the courtyard. Here's two of the newest additions to our family, Mr Jerry and Mr Berry.

Jerry and Berry's mama was the local "mother of the multitudes" who lived for years under the stairs of the old house with her numerous progeny. Unfortunately she recently succumbed to a mauling by a stray dog. Out wandered these two kittens from under the stairs a day after her demise. So now our family is caring for mama cat's orphans.

They now rule the courtyard with their antics. Everyone loves them and they are well cared for drinking fresh milk every day as well as mutton and chicken scraps from the butcher.

I'm not sure which one is Jerry and which is Berry. They're both so darned cute!

I was worried about the kittens as we were tear gassed and pepper gassed a few nights. The kitties seemed to instinctively run to their safe little hideaway under the stairs and suffered no ill effects. I've been tear gassed before but the pepper gas was a new experience. Pepper gas has no tell-tale stench like tear gas, it starts as a tickle in your throat and then you start coughing uncontrollably. Apparently pepper gas is a new addition to the Indian security forces' crowd control arsenal. I'm not sure if the pepper gas is a grenade or a canister fired from a gun like the tear gas.

August 10, 2016 photo from Greater Kashmir 
And so the unrest went on with the sounds random gunfire, shouting, yelling, the pops of gas canisters, sirens, and sometimes eerie silence during the days and nights. A few of the menfolk would leave the family compound in the early morning each day to buy milk, meat, and rotis from the neighborhood shops that would briefly open. We are now able to call in to Kashmir but our family can not call out by mobile. Kashmir remains under partial shutdown and curfew to this day. One glass window in our compound in a bedroom facing the street was broken by stone pelting protesters. I have to say as we drove through Srinagar to the airport at dawn  I saw little to no property damage. No burnt buildings nor destroyed vehicles just a few broken windows and walls spray painted with political slogans.

Srinagar, August 10, photo from Indian Express
What you see in the above photo taken on August 10th in Srinagar is typical of the violent protests. Young males in their teens and twenties masked and throwing rocks at Indian security forces. What you have here is as much a socioeconomic problem as a political problem. As you can imagine the economy in Kashmir is severely depressed because of these sorts of protests. Local businesses must close due to the protests, curfews, and ongoing strikes. Summer is the height of the tourist season in Kashmir, obviously there won't be many tourists this Summer. This economic depression results in a lot of unemployed young males with not much to do. A lot of young males with not much to do usually results in trouble.  More than 50 people including 2 policemen have died during this ongoing unrest. As of July 25th over 5,800 people have been injured including 3,550 security personnel and 2,309 civilians. The unrest in Kashmir has now continued for over 33 days.

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