Children’s Day Special: The Death Of Childhood In Kashmir


14th of November, birthday of Pt. Nehru, the day which over a billion people celebrate as Children’s Day.
Here’s an analysis of how childhood and its other aspects have been going on in Kashmir over the last few decades.

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No child is unharmed in Kashmir.
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Very often, when we feel low, we try to lift ourselves by looking at videos and pictures of children (at least I do) elsewhere who either are emptying bottles of sunscreen from their mums’ makeup and making a mess or are drawing cartoons on the wall mirrors and blaming batman and superman for it; how heartwarming and uplifting feel these children give us when we are in sorrow; they give us a direction when we are lost and hope when there is no hope.

In Kashmir, it is entirely the opposite. Do you want to know why? Children are robbed of their innocent souls here even before they could understand why, or at least robbed of their eyesights in broad daylight and then random ‘stray bullets’ get blamed for it. Somehow, the state has found new word replacements for ‘collateral damage’.

Google ‘Children pictures’ on the internet and you’ll see loads of cute children in all sorts of messy and funny situations which can have anyone in splits.

Now google ‘Kashmir children’ on the internet and the results will break your heart. You would either see the 15-year-old who was killed by another so called ‘stray bullet’ only a week ago or 7-year-old Kaneeza, who was shot during an encounter which resulted in her death and left her younger brother badly injured on March 15.

Take the results filter to 2016, and you’d see the list getting longer and longer as hundreds of young boys and girls were maimed and blinded with pellets, some of them even lost their lives.

As the bloodshed ravaged Kashmir, even toddlers had to visit the already over crowded hospitals, not for their vaccination shots unlike children elsewhere; they were there among the pellet injured.

Kashmir children
4-year-old Bareena lying on a hospital bed.

In the same year, Nasir Shafi from Dachigam had more than 300 pellets in his body. Nasir was only 11 and was his parents’ only son. He aspired to become a doctor and take his parents for Haj.

Kashmir children
Nasir’s school identity card.
Kashmir children
Nasir’s pellet ridden body.

Keep the search filter there only and you’ll see another young soul, Danish Sultan, who tried hard to battle the raging waters of Jhelum in which he jumped while being chased by the cops after a protest. Danish’s lifeless body was later fished out with deep injuries to his skull.

12-year-old Danish Sultan’s funeral.

In the same month, 13-year-old Sayar Ahmad was shot with a teargas shell on his head. Sayar, as the news stories would read was an active young boy. Only the night before his death, he had stayed up all night to keep an eye around his locality and warn the people about any incoming ransacking attacks.’

Sayar Ahmad’s funeral.

Go a bit further into the results and you’ll see 7-year-old Sameer Ahmad Rah whose life was also snuffed out at this tender age. No, he wasn’t shot, however. They beat him to death when he left his home to buy candies during a curfew in his locality back in 2010. Some news stories suggested a baton was stuffed down his throat.

Kashmir children
Sameer Ahmad Rah

Irshad Ashraf, an 8th class student from south Kashmir left his home to protest the beating of women by the cops, was killed with a gunshot from close range as reported by eyewitnesses.

Kashmir children
Irshad’s family member showing his pictures in an Arre’ documentary.

In the same year, 11-year-old Wamiq Farooq was killed while playing cricket at local Ghani Memorial Stadium in the old city.

Kashmir children
Wamiq Farooq and his mother.

The Same year, next month, Zahid Farooq, another 16-year-old handsome boy was robbed of his life right outside his home in Braine Nishat.

Zahid Farooq

11 years ago, on February 23, 2006, army men shot a group of children playing cricket in Handwara, killing 4 of them. Forces suspected a militant was hiding among them. Later the Army officially admitted it was ‘an error of judgment’.

Kashmir children
Picture from 23rd Feb, 2006.
Kashmir children
Statement from Human Rights Watch, Patterns of Impunity.

While elsewhere, children paint their comic superheroes on the mirrors or run around in the garden with their pets; in Kashmir, children are either maimed & blinded waiting for their appointments at the doctor. Some wait for their appointments at the lawyer to get rid of sedition charges and the safety acts against them while many have already lost the life’s battle and now their parents wait for justice.

No child is unharmed in Kashmir; those who look unharmed have a battle already raging in their minds by being witness to such atrocities first hand. You are lucky to have your children besides you. Give them a tight hug.

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