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Muntaha in Kashmir
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Muntaha in Kashmir

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Muntaha in Kashmir

Unlike the rest of the world, Kashmir has been in lockdown since the 5th of August 2019 - not just a few weeks or months but a whole year. Covid-19 simply shifted the nature of the restrictions from political to viral.

Muntaha shares with us here what it feels like to grow up in an endless chain of restrictions and the mental health impact of the barbed wire.

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Lockdowns are normal

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It took me three attempts to speak to Muntaha.

The first time, there was an information blackout in Kashmir; without the internet there was no way of reaching her.

The second time, Muntaha was grappling with a state of anxiety and felt unable to continue.

As we started the third take, I could hear hesitation in her voice. Recent reports of violence and the risk of speaking out about political issues loomed large.
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Now we can see you

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"This lockdown is very important.

But you ask me about the violence: violence in any part of the world is always a tragedy, in any form.

Whenever a person dies it’s the most traumatic event their family can ever feel, whichever side of the line they are.

I am constantly looking for that light in what seems is this impenetrable darkness. The hope of peace is a ray of light for me."
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"All this has made me see the world with more humble eyes. I have learnt to acknowledge others and respect differences. Everyone is unique and everyone has a story to tell.

I always say this: unexpressed grief becomes violence. Expressed grief becomes wisdom.

Be that any kind of grief or trauma, we need to give people the space and opportunity to grow and learn from that."
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Your feelings are valid

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"I want to listen to what security personnel feel when they are on the street for 10 straight hours. How does it feel standing on a street carrying a heavy gun for 10 straight hours?
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"When I used to wait for the school bus as a kid, there was a bunker there and the army were like my friends then. And I would ask them: how is this gun? Can I take this gun? Is this heavy? This and that!

And I remember there was one who said to me, “I have a sister like you at my home. I miss her.”

What these lockdowns have taught me is that while we might feel like this person is not the same as me, he or she is as human as I am."
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Kashmiri Resilience

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"Understand how pain can transform your life. It’s ok to feel pain. It’s ok to feel helpless. It’s ok to cry. That helps us to grow.

We need to know our cage. We need to know what’s stopping us and then that sets us free."
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  • Contributor: Muntaha K.
    Directed by: Dan Hodgson, Julia Alcamo and Kajri Babbar
    Photographs provided by: Muntaha K.
    Illustration by: Ewa Ferdynus

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