In the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani, protests broke out in the Valley leading to death of scores of people. As life begins to limp back to normalcy, a local youth has taken upon himself the task of showcasing how every time a tragedy strikes the Valley, people overcome it. His work is also dedicated towards ending the scepticism that Kashmir is all about terrorism.
In his own words:
“Knees maybe broken,
But we still stand tall.
We rose higher,
After every dreadful fall.
The nights are dark, the sun is gone.
But we are hopeful, the night will end,
The sun will rise, there’ll be dawn.”
Twenty-five-year-old Aamir Wani captures Kashmir in pictures that are accompanied by poems giving a description of the beautiful Valley. The photographer and poet juxtaposes these two skills of his to present before the people that Kashmir is still the paradise it once was.
Posting on the social media site, Instagram, Aamir’s account goes by the name- kashmirthroughmylens. The artist has also started his own website dedicating his work to portray Kashmir in a completely different light.
Wani said, “There are hundred and thousands of pictures of Kashmir’s landscape available on the internet but what I aim to do is portray the side of Kashmir that everyone can relate to. Kashmir is often considered as a place where travelling is not safe and people often refrain from travelling because of what they see and I want to change that perception because that is not entirely true.”
Aamir added, “I wish to change that mindset that Kashmir is not safe to visit. I want to show the positive side of Kashmir and I want people to come and see the heaven for themselves. I feel there are differences among Kashmiris itself, like between Pandits and Muslims. I want to bridge that gap through my work.”
Wani started taking the pictures a year ago, with the purpose to attract people from outside towards Kashmir and bring every Kashmiri closer to each other, setting aside the differences. With this intention, Wani started his website-www.kashmirthroughmylens.com a couple of months ago.
The page aims to tell stories from Kashmir. Not just about the places but about the locals too, irrespective of their faith. The thing is what people see, they believe in and with the help of this page Aamir believes there can be a change in how people think about Kashmir.
As another poem by the artist describes the Valley:
Bulbul returned to my land, oh mother!
In my garden after years, bloomed a flower
I see the Vyeth slowly giving birth to the valley now
There’s no death, no darkness, only life, mother!
Kashmir is dazzling in lights tonight,
In the valley, plucking saffron I see
Nund Reshi and Lal Ded walking together,
I hear the songs of love, oh mother!
Dawn broke out, I hear the azaan of Fajar
Sad! it was only a dream, oh mother!
“Kashmiri literature is very beautiful and I think people generally do not know much about It. So on my website, I’ve also included a section for English translations of the works of famous writers and poets from Kashmir,” he said.
Comparing Kashmir to a multi faced diamond, Aamir said that every side of the Valley is equally beautiful, but it has gone through a lot of bad cuts. “Every Kashmiri has suffered during the turmoil irrespective of faith. There’s no comparison who suffered more and who suffered less. All through the years, there are mothers who have relentlessly waited for sons who never returned home, houses were burnt, families had to leave and were forced to leave, yet there are two forces which have walked along the people of Kashmir, that are – hope and courage,” he said.
Wani said a true Kashmiri is someone who knows how to treat people equally irrespective of their religion or for that matter anything. “People who have visited Kashmir always have to say good things about Kashmiri hospitality, you must have heard recently about the shikara wala who lost his life while saving tourists when their boat capsized. I mean that man is a perfect example of a true Kashmiri. A true Kashmiri is someone who understands the very basic of Kashmiri culture and that is love and compassion for others, doesn’t matter if you know the person or not,” he said.
Brought up in Srinagar, Aamir went to England for higher studies. After completing his studies, he worked in the UK but eventually realised that his love for Kashmir was way stronger than having a well paid job in a foreign country. So, he returned back to Kashmir to and took up his true calling.