In his photo essay for The Guardian, photojournalist and Magnum Foundation fellow Showkat Nanda captures the trauma, isolation, and hope of young Kashmiris whose lives have been disrupted by an extended lockdown due to the region's change in governing status and the pandemic.
Having grown up in the troubled Indian region of Kashmir, photographer Showkat Nanda knew what it was to be “a child of conflict”, the name often used to describe the generations of Kashmir’s youth since the 1980s. This picturesque Himalayan region has been a source of conflict between India and Pakistan for decades, with several wars fought over the territory, and since the 1990s it has been home to a heavy Indian military presence and a long-running separatist insurgency with an allegiance to Pakistan.
Yet while it is the militants, soldiers and politicians who dominate the headlines around Kashmir’s troubles, Nanda’s gaze had often turned to the more invisible victims, in whom he saw himself: Kashmir’s children.
Nanda had already been working on a long-term project documenting the emotional and psychological trauma experienced by young people in Kashmir when he was approached by the Magnum Foundation for proposals for a photo essay. His thoughts turned to a photo he had recently taken, of two young girls sitting together in the waiting room of a psychiatric hospital where they were being treated for depression, and what they had lived through since 2019.