Kids Talk Night Raids, Detentions & Curfew: Kashmir’s New Normal?
Kashmiri kids as young as 6 talk pellet injuries, illegal detentions and their longing for normal childhood.
Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan, Deepthi Ramdas
Illustrations: Erum Gour
Nine-year-old Liaqat Zeeshan* (name changed) recalls the day when Article 370 was revoked. It was the day that his school was shut and the day when he had a ‘speaking’ competition, for which he had put in a lot of work, that he couldn’t participate in. “I felt so bad. I had been preparing for it for weeks but for nothing,” he bemoaned.
On 5 August, the Central government revoked Article 370, stripping Jammu & Kashmir of its special status. For precaution, telecom and Internet services were suspended and educational institutions were closed.
‘We Miss School, Our Friends and Normal Life’
“I miss my school. I miss my friends. I miss my teachers. We haven’t been able to speak to our relatives,” said Samira*, a student of class 6.
With protests being held on a daily basis, incidents of stone-pelting and cases of minors getting picked up and detained being reported, parents have had to quarantine their children at home. Stuck at home with nothing to do and unable to meet their friends, the children have grown sad.
We feel depressed. We wake up to the news of death. This person died, that person died, someone lost their eyesight. My brothers lost their eyesight due to pellet injuries. They went outside but look at what happened. Others have been picked up and detained. There is a special jail for just minors.Javed*, Student, Class 6
‘We Don’t Feel Safe’
On 28 October, three boys were taken into police custody on the suspicion of pelting stones in Soura, Srinagar.
“We were playing the park when were picked up. We weren’t pelting stones. The SHO came and hit us really badly. Then they pushed us into the Rakshak and hit us repeatedly. They even thrashed us with sticks. Then we went to the police station, they kept us in the lockup for two days.”Arif*, Detained Minor
Eleven-year-old Amir* who was detained along with Arif said he misses his mother. When he asked authorities to let him meet his parents, they refused.
“I am scared that the police will pick us up again and lock us up, which is why I don’t step out at all.”Arif*, Detained Minor
Shattered Dreams, Future Uncertain
Samira said her future seems bleak. She wants to be an engineer but doesn’t know if the situation will permit her to follow her dream. She’s aware of the reality – of curfews and protests – which makes attending school a perilous affair. “With the situation in Kashmir, fulfilling my dream seems difficult,” she said.
Kashmiri children dream of becoming doctors and engineers. More than that, they dream of leading a normal life.
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