Walk children out of the horror they faced

By Muazzam Nasir
Kashmir has been embroiled in a fresh turmoil for the past five months. The current phase of rebellion against the State has seen different aspects of conflict related issues come to fore. The youth of Kashmir who were otherwise busy with their daily routine of school-home-school had to face a different situation. There is no doubt that the current phase of protest affected the psyche of the youth, especially those in the lower age groups because they were suddenly put in a spot. They had to witness what nobody would have wished anyone to see. The fact that analysing the situation on television shook the people outside to the core, one wonders what would the children aged 3 or 4 think of the time they had to witness all this in reality. In India, children have seen the bloodshed only on television shows like Crime Patrol or CID, but Kashmiri kids are the protagonists in the middle of a war itself. The affect of the period of turmoil was such that even small kids forced their parents to buy a toy gun for them imagining to fight on the ground. There were no schools, no picnics, no football, no cricket, there was absolutely nothing at all.
The children had to shift from their daily routine of school-home-school to home-home-home all the time. This, coupled with the smoke of teargas, irritating sensation generated by pepper gas the government forces use here, and the pain of pellets and bullets constituted horror for the children. They had no other choice than to sit back at home and wait for the day when they would see the faces of their friends, peer company they had not experienced for months on end.
Children like most of the adult population could not establish contact with their peers because phones were off the hook, Internet was banned and there was no other alternative to do so. The pain was such that children would search for their friends in newspapers, in the updated list of the dead, in the horrifying pictures placed on local dailies showing victims of pellet guns, the weapon of choice for the government forces this past summer.
The period of strikes and shutdowns was slowly phasing out and life started limping back to a certain quantifiable normal. The elders went back to offices and their respective business establishments, but the best part was the return of children to where they belong – schools. If in any other part of the world children would have met their friends after such a long time, they would have shared stories about fun they had during holidays, the good time they spent with their parents, but at the end of the day imagination comes to rest because we are in Kashmir and the five months of enforced solitude was no feisty ride for the children. It was a roller coaster ride that shook their souls. The children had stories only about the dead. They did not talk about Virat Kohli’s double century or Cristiano Ronaldo’s Balon d’or, they talked about Burhan Wani, Sarjan Barkati and Arnab Goswami. Arnab Goswami would be their hot topic, not Shinchan or Doraemon. This reflects the effect of the turmoil on the mind of our children and youth.
What is the solution?
To be categorical about it, the solution is resolution of the dispute but since that seems a distant reality for now, the immediate aim should be to involve the youth and children in fruitful activities. Every solution doesn’t lie in sending them out of the state. Their psyche is already traumatised. What if tomorrow he is tagged a stone-pelter or terrorist by children in Jammu or Delhi who think so about Kashmiri children because of their media? How will your child react? The need of the hour is to heal the psyche of your child, to provide such an atmosphere at home that will allow your child to feel a little more of the world around.
Uncha ho jab iraada to parbatien bhi haar maan jaye
Zameer se jo nikli awaaz, usko aaj sach kar dikhaye
—The writer is a student and founder of a literary society which promotes art and literature in Kashmir by offering Kashmiri youth spaces to showcase their talent. He tweets @muazzamnasir20