Sudden silence smeared across the Valley when all TV channels broadcasted the killing of four persons in an encounter at Hyderpora in Srinagar included a foreign terrorist, a local militant, an over ground worker (OGW) and the house owner.
Somewhere we all are getting disturbed with such acts which occur almost everyday blatantly across the region. All remain shivered and fearful, as their life is uncertain which is targeted from far every second.
However, the elderly or the middle-aged people have the sense of the aura of Kashmir, but what about the young ones, who still have a bright future that awaits from the other side of the heaven-turned-to-hell place.
Even as propaganda, whitewashing and blames tried to distort the disturbed image coming out of Kashmir recently, what’s inevitable, many say, is the protracted conflict regularly plunging the valley into an abyss of agony.
Children in Kashmir get disillusioned with their study in an insecure atmosphere, where their rights, lives and future remain uncertain. The socio-psychological impact is that, along with the conflict, comes insecurity. Over the years, the lived trauma has gone through the roof in the valley.
Think of children watching armed people all around themselves. The conflict in Kashmiri has a very negative impact on all inhabitants of the valley but most serious effects are seen on children. It has engrossed their whole life and hampers their overall development, be it physical or psychological.
Children have lost the feeling of security even while being with their family and perceive themselves as helpless. Conflict has filled their tender hearts with anger and frustration and they have lost their peace of mind. Health, which is mostly valuable for a child is crippled by armed conflict and children suffer from psychological problems of PTSD, anxiety, depression etc.
Kids, who were supposed to be playing outside, learning fruitful things have been seen talking about politics, killings and dreadful experiences. What tore the hearts of many is when a video went viral on social media, later on shared by NDTV, showing a daughter of slain J&K civilians, killed in Hyderpora encounter, crying her soul out.
"How will I explain it to my brother? He is much younger than I am. He doesnt know anything. He is so attached to his father and so am I," cried Altaf Bhat's daughter, a civilian who was killed in the cross-fire that ensued between the security forces and the militants in Hyderpora.
Visibly distraught, she went on with her shaking voice, "I asked them [the police], 'uncle, what have you done?' but they just laughed. They were unashamedly laughing."
It feels pitiful to say that the situation is getting worse day-by-day, forget about the grown up individuals who have already lived their lives, think about those who are yet to step ahead in future. Some are left in orphanages as they have lost their caretakers at the time when they need them most. Armed conflict is leaving its long-term effect by compromising education of children which is most important for the future development of society.
Witnessing bomb blasts, gunshots, blood, chaos, loss, anxiety, throughout our constructive years, fear has been ingrained in us. This fear may exhibit itself in the form of adulthood depression, trust issues, xenophobia, and in extreme cases addiction to narcotics.
People outside don’t usually understand why Kashmiris, essentially Kashmiris of the modern generation, the generation teeming with now-adult children of conflict, want peace or a hint of normalcy. It’s not just to live an economically stable life or to settle down. The basic reason why normalcy is aspired in Kashmir is to outlive and overcome traumas of our fear-afflicted childhood. It is to shake off that negative energy looming over us every time we step out to buy groceries. To enjoy quiet evenings without police alarms blaring us out of peaceful oblivion.
(This story was earlier published on Jammu and Kashmir's leading weekly tabloid Jazzbaat24 on 21 November, 2021)