Nerves of peace in troubled Kashmir
By Fayaz Kabli
As the year nears its end, the Chinar trees have turned a crimson red and the water in the Dal Lake is still and calm. The peace in the troubled Kashmir region has a hold of the nerves of the Kashmiri people.
From 2008 to 2010, Kashmir saw its worst period of unrest which claimed hundreds of lives and destroyed much of its economy.
This year, the scenic valley has been relatively peaceful. Although residents who witnessed the previous three years of violence were apprehensive at the beginning of this year, the trouble they had expected didn’t materialize.
After a 15 year career with Reuters, I was able to take my days off without abrupt violence interfering. It was amazing to spend quality time with my family. In previous years my colleagues and I spent many days and nights in the office due to the violence outside and the curfews imposed.
My workload this year has been moderate in comparison to previous years. Mostly I photographed daily life pictures; people busy at weddings, farmers in their fields, tourists enjoying the beauty of Kashmir and the streets abuzz with business activities.
This year the weddings took place in a calm and charming atmosphere. People were seeing bursting crackers during the weddings and guests could enjoy the traditional feasts. This was in stark contrast to previous years when people were compelled to either hold a low key wedding or cancel it all together due to continued clashes between Indian security forces and protesters and subsequent government curfews.
2011 was a bright tourist season for Kashmir. A large number of tourists, the majority from various parts of India, came to Kashmir and are still pouring in for the winter season.
But as the saying goes “never trust the weather or the situation in Kashmir, both can change abruptly”. So I keep my fingers crossed. A neglected spark can burn a neighbor’s house.