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In Kashmir 2011, stones make a subtler statement

In 2009, stones were the most potent weapons of protest in Kashmir. This year, after the end of a peaceful summer, they have turned into an art form. Peerzada Ashiq reports.

india Updated: Oct 30, 2011 00:09 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Gowhar-Nabi-Gora-displays-a-stone-installation-Mauj-Kashir-Mother-Kashmir-at-Heal-Kashmir-with-Art-programme-in-Srinagar-HT-Waseem-Andrabi
Gowhar-Nabi-Gora-displays-a-stone-installation-Mauj-Kashir-Mother-Kashmir-at-Heal-Kashmir-with-Art-programme-in-Srinagar-HT-Waseem-Andrabi

In 2009, stones were the most potent weapons of protest in Kashmir. This year, after the end of a peaceful summer, they have turned into an art form.

At Healing Kashmir with Art, an initiative of young Kashmiris who have grown up amid the violence of the past two decades, a stone and pebble installation by Gowhar Nabi Gora, a young veterinarian, shows a small stone, in red, being crushed between two large stones.

"The two big stones are India and Pakistan, and the small deformed, debilitated one is Kashmir with blood all around," said Gora, explaining the symbolism of his installation labelled Mauj Kashir (Mother Kashmir).

"This is my way of saying stop throwing stones. My stones reflect a transition from resistance to art."

Gora was one of around 15 youngsters whose creations were displayed on Saturday at Srinagar's Nageen Club at the Healing Kashmir with Art exhibition.

Another stone work by Gora is called Noah's Ark.

"People of Kashmir too are amidst a tempest and waiting for an ark to rescue them," he said.

Stones, mostly hurled at security forces, have been central to the valley's protest narrative in the last three years. Street protests were the bloodiest last year — 113 people, mostly youngsters, lost their lives in action by security forces.

Irtiza Malik, 13, a Class 7 student of Srinagar's Delhi Public School, is the youngest artist in the group. The violence of 2010 has left its imprint on her.

"My school bus was attacked by stone-throwers last year. We were all frightened that day," she said, adding that she also saw security forces roughing up a woman and her child.

"My painting depicts the screams I witnessed last year," Malik said.

Besides paintings and installations, there are poems, hanging from the wall.

"Writing poetry helps me cope with stress. I was born in 1990 when the armed uprising started," said Namia Noor, a college student.

"For me, guns, violence and deaths are as real as trees, water, land."

The event's organiser, Haseeb ul Nabi, however, frames the experience in hope.

"My painting shows a transformation of Kashmiri youth from violence to peace," said Nabi, who earlier worked with technology firm HCL.

"Such events provide a channel where youth can utilise their pent-up feelings positively."