According to famous war correspondent Robert Fisk: “The crucial element is not the physical training, but the mental training indeed.”
Wars do no good to anybody. These mass killing machines are the brainchild of politicians. Wars are bad events, upsetting and should be avoided at all cost.
Kashmir is a scenic land, torn by decades of conflict. A longstanding dispute over the region ensures that life for Kashmiris is anything but peaceful. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir as their part. The neighbouring countries have fought two wars over Kashmir since their partition in 1947. The Muslim-majority region is under the Indian control.
The political dispute and constant violence has taken the sheen off what is otherwise a culturally vibrant and scenic place.
Displayed here are the images captured in the last several years in Kashmir, a region inhabited by roughly 12.5 million people.
Kashmir has for long been a favourite of photographers for the beauty it exudes, but the armed conflict that started in 1989 has marred the exuberance it once resonated.
The region has remained underreported for various reasons. It does not get the world attention which other conflict zones receive. So, there was a need to document the sufferings of this once tranquil land and to show to the outer world how the people live here amid constant threat to life.
There was a need to tell the stories of the people who are subjected to inhumane conditions by the governments. Pictures leave an impact and tell more than the written word. The idea was purely that.
It was also a conscious decision to leave something for posterity, for the coming generations. The written word can be distorted but a picture is there for everyone to see. It is impactful; it speaks for itself and transports you to its own world.
Another reason to capture Kashmir is because I belong here, I can connect to it, I know it well, its beauty fascinates me and its loss looks like my own.
Yawar Nazir Kabli was born in conflict-ravaged Indian-administered Kashmir. He did his graduation in tourism and hospitality from Amar Singh College in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
A creative environment at home cultivated an artist in him. He inherited the love for photography from his father who worked as a chief photographer with the state Information Department. In his father’s words ‘Yawar used to fiddle with the photography equipment and as he grew up, photography books occupied more time and space in his life.
Yawar started videography when he was 18. He assisted an ace cameraman and would carry his tripod and sound equipment. Most of the directors and producers with whom he worked as a ‘camera boy’ appreciated his zeal and enthusiasm for the moving and still visuals.
By 2005, the realization to be a photographer had cemented in him. He received training from his cousin Fayaz Kabli, a photojournalist used to work with Reuters. He began his career in 2005 by contributing to Reuters. After two years, he started freelancing for Gamma Presse and Polaris. In 2008, he got a chance to work with Scoopt — a photo website owned by Getty Images - which he eventually joined as a freelancer. In 2009, he worked with a local weekly Kashmir Life and a local daily Rising Kashmir.
His pictures have been published in renowned newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Gulf Times, The Telegraph, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, Time and Life and many other publications globally. Currently, he freelance as a photojournalist particularly for the Getty Images.
Kashmir has always been a tough place for photojournalists to cover. Throughout history, photojournalists have been risking their lives by going to the warfronts to get the real picture. They don’t only face threat from war, they are constantly on the radar of the authoritarian governments and security and intelligence apparatus. In war zones, human rights are dramatically broken and getting to the truth is often difficult.
Yawar Nazir Kabli has been following and reporting conflict in the strife-torn region of Kashmir for the last 15 years. He has been on the road constantly, clicking pictures of slain guerrillas and anything that catches his attention. His images deal with interesting but dramatic subjects and will give you an idea about the extreme conditions in which photojournalists live and work. The images show both sides of Kashmir, the beauty of the land and the grim reality of conflict.