In this photo-essay, Bilal Ahmad captures the remains of the decimated homes of civilians which are burnt and destroyed by explosives by armed forces following encounters with Indian armed forces and militants in the valley.
2018 turned out to be the bloodiest year of the decade in Kashmir. By the year end, at least 586 people were killed, including 267 militants, 160 civilians and 159 Indian forces personnel, reports the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a Kashmir-based rights group.
The year witnessed rising conflict marked by frequent Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) followed by gunfights that inflicted a severe blow to the militants with 267 killed this year. Some of the gunfights between armed forces and militants led to civilian casualties near encounter sites with at least 40 civilians killed in this way. The gunfights also resulted in the destruction of homes of civilians by armed forces.
For the local populace in the valley, the mornings have been usually starting with CASOs by Indian forces followed by gunfights and ending with mourning for slain militants and the loss of homes, which are razed to the ground during the encounter.
In almost every gunfight, the Indian armed forces including the local police and its special counterinsurgency wing are in the habit of blowing up the civilian properties by the excessive use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
The houses turn to wrecks in a matter of hours.
In 2018, at least 120 residential houses were damaged in counterinsurgency operations, as per the data compiled by Association of Parents of disappeared persons (APDP) and the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).
The famed Himalayan region has been reduced to a land of pain and suffering by the long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan since the subcontinent was divided into two countries on religious grounds in 1947.
About the Author(s):
Bilal Ahmad is a freelance photojournalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir. Bilal is currently pursuing Masters in Convergent Journalism at Central University of Kashmir. His work has been featured in The Quint, Rising Kashmir among others.