Nearly ten years ago, when photographer Shome Basu first went to Kashmir, he wasn't looking for a postcard image or even a story. He was looking for lives he could document and movements he could capture. It is this non-judgmental, almost curious gaze that is evident in the work Basu has done in Kashmir over the last decade.
"Anything which has a story is of my interest. It could be anything from political movements, economic or religious issues," says Basu. When asked what makes Kashmir so important to him, Basu points out that "Kashmir is one of the dangerous places on earth today with over 700,000 army, police and paramilitary personnel, which is more than what one sees in conflict zones like Afghanistan and Iraq."
His camera's tryst with Kashmir hasn't, however, been without incident. "Last year in August, I was shooting a protest in Soura, close to Srinagar. My shoot was nearly over when I was hit by a stone and ended up with eight stitches on the forehead" he recounts. Basu was back to business the next morning, shooting images and capturing ideas.
Basu is also working on a book of images on Kashmir. "The book will be a photo-heavy compilation trying to sketch the life of a Kashmiri", he says.
A selection of these images was recently exhibited at the Visual Art Gallery, India Habitat Centre under the title What I Saw. The images can be seen online at Basu’s website (www.shomebasu.photoshelter.com).