Kashmir is often seen by many as a territorial dispute between South Asian nuclear rivals: India and Pakistan. But in the last 28 years, the humanitarian cost of the conflict has been extreme. Tens of thousands of people have died, thousands have been orphaned and around 8,000 people are missing. Sharafat shot these photographs in different areas of Kashmir over recent years. During this time, Kashmir witnessed some of the deadliest anti-India protests in the history of 28 years of the conflict. More than 100 children and teenagers died during 2016 alone. Sharafat’s work deals with conflict, politics, faith and daily life in the region.
Before the January 25 revolution in Egypt that led to the Arab Spring, it was the Kashmiris who used social media to mobilise and organise protests in 2008 and extensively in 2010. With 60 per cent of the population under the age of 30, the discourse is led by opinion leaders on various social media platforms and not by the newspapers.
Kashmiris have used the technology as a tool to define their movement for independence. Rather than waiting for journalists to make a story, they are taking a phone and making a story on their own. A phenomenon that has not only created awareness on Kashmir globally, but given local voices an international platform.
Indian authorities call the shotgun shells filled with hundreds of small metal pellets a “non-lethal” weapon for crowd control, but that does not make them harmless. They’ve inflicted a permanent toll on hundreds of Kashmiris hit by them.Their faces are scarred. Their eyes are damaged or simply gone, replaced with prosthetics. And their psychological wounds run deeper still.”What I miss most is being able to read the holy Quran,” says Firdous Ahmad Dar, 25, a Kashmiri man who lost vision in both eyes after being shot with the pellets during an anti-India protest in the troubled Himalayan region.