Kashmir – Paradise Lost

The Kashmiris began their struggle for self-determination fifty years ago. Since then, the dispute has turned into a violent war of religious extremists fought out in a place which, since both Delhi and Islamabad went nuclear in 1998, is said to be the most dangerous on earth. Truth is a distorted matter in this paradise lost, where indigenous militants are joined by foreign mercenaries.

Since the Kargil War of 1999, Delhi has poured almost 150,000 troops into the valley. On the other side, Pakistan continues to support the infiltration of Jihadis from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere into the valley across from POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). The opposing sides seem to understand that eventually, they will probably have to accept the UN’s 1965 “Line of Control” as a permanent border. Human rights violations committed by the security forces are legion and well documented, and every day not only militants but more and more civilians, mostly young men, are killed. The Kashmiri Muslims, emotionally and physically ravaged by this long and bloody strife, may nurture different visions of a future for this bleeding valley, depending on their own local agenda, but they agree that autonomy is irrelevant and that the only solution is independence from India – azaadi.

The reportage was commissioned and published by Facts, Zürich, and became part of Travelling through the Eye of History.