Exclusive: After India abolished “one country, two systems”, Kashmiri photographer captured a different home through the lens

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It’s not long time back when Government of India revoked Article 370 and abolished Article 35A of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir. On 5 August 2019, the Union government revocated the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir, and made the entire constitution of India applicable to the state. As the decision came suddenly, people were in shock and couldn’t understand how to react. The decision was announced after India and Pakistan got briefly involved in a dispute.

Since then, Kashmir is facing security lockdown and communication blackout. It has been imposed throughout the Indian-administered union territory of Jammu Kashmir. The Indian government stated this lockdown as to measures aimed at curbing terrorism in area. Its going to complete 2 years and people are still deprived of necessities. Education, employment, tourism, several sectors got affected in Kashmir before even actual pandemic hit the world. The conditions there, have been undescribed as outsiders were not allowed to enter the state and the communication was blocked. People claimed the sufferings during the curfew whereas government denied and expressed the situation under control.

And in all this chaos, a 21 years old boy named Mutahir Showkat stand out as an inspiration for children living there and across the country. He is from Qazigund of district Anantnag. He is a photographer from Kashmir valley and is helping youth to learn photography through his books. He also produces podcast programs and love to capture nature. Apart from all this, he is also a founder of an event organization named as “Chrysalis artist” which is currently running in Jammu. Mutahir talked about his two books and what’s like living in Kashmir. He told Eat News, “Kashmiri people are quite simple and lucid. There is beauty in their simplicity and in their sophistication. Kashmiris are generous when it comes to hospitality. Life in Kashmir is normal. I mean it is normal for every Kashmiri. We are used to obstacles and hindrances we go through, but there is always this desire to escape. Sometimes life in Kashmir is suffocating but Kashmiris are immune to this suffocation. There is no better place than Kashmir. Kashmir is our home.”

Photo: Mutahir Showkat

He has written two books till now. One is “Photography tips for beginners: Ultimate guide for photography” and the second is “Photography Editing and Editors: Complete guide for photography editing and editors”. Both are available on Amazon and on other national and international book platforms too. “My passion for photography and writing inspired me the most to write these books. I wanted to set an example for the present youth because in present scenario, the youth is into unethical and inappropriate things like drugs and all. I wanted to act as a guiding light for the youth which is the asset of the society”, said Mutahir.

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He shared about the changes his life witnessed after the Article 370 got revoked. He said, “Well for two years I have not witnessed any positive change with regard to welfare and betterment of Kashmir. Firstly, Internet was banned for some time, secondly when proper communication was restored here, then problem raised because of the 2g network. In this digitalized era, Kashmir lacked behind and even today we are facing the same. It has been a biggest setback to Kashmir’s growth and development.”

Photo: Xinhua News Agency

According to Mutahir, people should not judge a book by its cover, just because conflicts keep arising doesn’t mean that Kashmiri’s are inhumane. “Kashmiri’s have suffered a lot. I would say it is a land of martyrs but still people wake up with a new hope in them. Outsiders have a misperception that Kashmiris don’t believe in peace and tranquility but I would like to clear such misconceptions. We too want stability, development and free environment to live in”, said Mutahir.

He further shared, “Just as every coin has two sides there are both positive as well as negative opinions and perspective abut Kashmir. We all know that Kashmir has always been a place with conflict, but the truth is barely known. Several obstacles and chaotic situations are faced by Kashmiris on daily basis with regard to several aspects. Many people think it is not a safe place but being a resident of Kashmir, it is the most beautiful place to live in regardless of the ongoing conflicts.” He believes Kashmiris have strong will power. From many years they are facing brutal ups and downs but still they are courageous enough to withstand every storm. “I don’t believe in media as media tends to mould the things according to their interest due to which the originality of the topic gets lost and because of which people get misguided”, quoted by Mutahir.

He wishes to start wildlife photography as a carrier. While sharing his plans, he mentioned to do cinematic series about different places of Kashmir and as a author, he is currently working on a book in which he is trying to cover the biography of different Sufi saints of Kashmir and rest he will try to bring some more books about photography.

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At the end, Mutahir conveyed a message to youth. He said, “Be a good example for the society. Don’t let things overshadow you in life. No matter which field you are interested in, do it and come forward. I know lot of people will demotivate you but never stop working hard. You are going to shine, it’s just hardwork and perseverance.”

Mutahir Showkat is an inspiration for all the youth in Jammu and Kashmir who either gets involve in conflicts or do not dare to dream.

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Shefali Ranawat is an Eat News correspondent in India. She want to be the voice of people. Also, she aim to be a war correspondent.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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