Psychological impact on Kashmir’s youth

Kashmir's Youth

The Kashmir conflict has shaped the unconscious psychology of the entire Indian-administered-Kashmiri population. It imposes an important question of how the current political situation in the valley has and is psychologically affecting the youth, causing many mental health problems. Accordingly, it’s the Kashmiri youth that is most affected currently since they are unable to make peace between the violent past and unstable present. The conflict has not only created a violent context to which people, especially youth respond to with mostly repressed emotions, aggression and frustration. But since the peaceful options are blocked, the Kashmir conflict defies solution causing hopelessness, despair, and numerous mental health problems amongst younger generation that feels unheard and disrespected in this whole scenario.

Eighteen year old, Basit Rasheed Bhat from downtown Srinagar had been throwing stones on every Friday and Sunday, for about six years since 2006. He was arrested twice during these years. “I realized”, Rasheed says, “although stone-throwing is an emotional-outlet, especially for anger and frustration on account of the brutalities faced by the people here, however, not the best option.” He suffered with depression and kept having nightmares of the tear-gas shell for quite some time after the incident that cost him his spleen at the age of 16.

The incident had a deep impact on his academic performance as well. Formerly, being one of the toppers in class eight examinations, he is currently learning carpentry to support his family that consists of his widowed mother and an older brother, after he couldn’t successfully pass his class 10 examinations due to the recurring curfews, strikes and the obvious tear-gas-stone-throwing scenarios.

“Everyone would go out and engage in stone-throwing; I did it because my friends did it and because that was the most fun thing you could do around here, however, at the cost of my health, education, and peace of mind,” says Rasheed.  In 2011, when he got arrested, two FIRs were filed against him and he was put behind the bars for about 23 days.

In 2012, he was kept in jail for 15 days even when no FIR was filed against him. These incidents affected Rasheed psychosocially as well. He lost trust in his friends because of whom he was arrested twice and was in a small cell of the jail shared by about twenty other people. He says regretfully, “You go through a lot of pain when you are confined to four walls of the jail and all you can do is think about how different life could have been.”

Unfortunately, he is not the only one. Mubeeda Zafar, a lawyer at the District Court, Srinagar and a counselor, deals with such cases every now and then. She and another counselor, Aamina Iqbal, did a counseling session with Rasheed after he was released from the jail.

While explaining Basit’s story in a psychological context, Iqbal sums up that everyone in Kashmir has been a victim of the ongoing conflict in one way or the other; yet on account of learned helplessness, everyone in the valley is supposed to deal with the ramifications of mental stress on their own. “Unlike in the other parts of India and the West, mental stress in the valley is not considered a big problem since it is less obvious than physical manifestations of the conflict,” says Iqbal.

The problems faced by the youth mostly are mental health problems such as dissociative disorders or hysteria, post traumatic stress disorder, acute stress reaction, depression, drug dependence and abuse, cancer and cardiac problems along with an increase in suicide, and psychosis.

[pullquote]You go through a lot of pain when you are confined to four walls of the jail and all you can do is think about how different life could have been.[/pullquote]“Youth also referred to as teenagers or adolescents, in general, are between the ages of 13-20 years old. This phase of life brings up issues of identity-crisis and independence; asking for experiments, discovery, change and personal growth. It increases the importance of peer-groups,” defines Iqbal.

The psychiatrists believe that young Kashmiri boys and girls have to experience a direct change in their personalities, identities and behaviors everyday on account of gunshots, painful screams, banging of window panes and doors, night protests, police and paramilitary raids, wild scenes of violence. “What further adds up to their fear and anxiety,” clarifies Iqbal, “is when they get directly exposed to the violence due to their or their dear ones’ arrests or killings.”

Kashmiris have been suffering from frequent bomb-blasts, curfews, and property damages— all leading to high levels of stress, endless fear, and insecurity. The after-effects of which still prevail in their behavioral trends. The ongoing conflict has left its imprints on people in different forms. But in Kashmir, there are only a couple of dozens of psychiatrists and a few clinical psychologists, mostly based in the capital city (Srinagar).

Sapna Sangra, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Jammu and Commonwealth Professional Fellow (2012), says that important issues faced by Kashmiri people always remain unaddressed. “Youth need to be heard so that they are more meaningfully involved.”

“The vicious cycle of innocent people getting killed keeps developing a series of disappointment, injustice, aggression, depression and discrimination in the process,” says Sangra.

Photograph by Altaf Qadri/Associated Press

6 COMMENTS

  1. The most effective solution would be to get rid of article 370 and allow the youth of J&K to interact and co-exist closely with people from the rest of the India. Then, these misguided and tortured souls will realise how futile and brutal the manipulated terror struggle was. The movement is a malevolent exploitation of Islamic faith. It is important that the young generation of J&K understands it. And soon.

    Inshallah!

    • STFU Sanjeev…you useless excuse of a human…they ought to take people like you & shoot them in blind alleys.. you are the reason our country is stuck in corruption and separated in animosity towards each other..you are a divider..not a uniter..you deserve the worst.. you charlatan !!

      All you do is cleverly label people while denying actual facts.

      See the reality..you live in a jail..your mind is deluded..I pity you, I hope your existence has brought you much grief.

      May you be born again as the e-coli that lines the rectum of a homosexual.

      • This comment has been reproduced many times over under different posts and amounts to spam.

        My reply to it can be read elsewhere on this blog.

        • here this is where I will spam you now…..ready here it is..you know why spamming you is relevant? To denounce the denouncer..ol man :)

          If you do not want personal attacks on yourself get the fuck out out the kitchen pal..you bring it upon yourself by spewing hate & dividing people ..your ideology is fuckt!

          Ran out of lies, deception, coercion and innuendo ??

          Or perhaps you are busy with planning that yamraj visit :)

          Mr Sanjeev Patwardhan

          HAHAHA …. Too much…

          Here Im gonna do it again…you klutz..I feel sad …no I don’t never mind..

          My life is fine, thanks for your sarcastic concern. As a Harvard Alum I enjoy life in more ways than you can imagine.

          Like I said that fast approaching door to senility & retirement has made you go loony..Keep you your loony tunes ..ol man :)

          Oh did I mention..eat a dick you parasite !!!

          :)
          Sanjeeev is a Liar, deceiver, & a Charlatan. Confront him with anything he will label your argument as a ‘jihadi’ etc etc.. Him & the like are only in here for to spread malcontent. They are the sort that after the army kills bystanders, terms it ‘alleged killing’ while on the same hand when a few ‘mighty’ gun trotting jawans are killed you hear from them “jawans were butchered” another ploy of the hegemonic beast. He is nothing but a tool.

          what scholarly work has he done, all he does is denounce scholars and those that speak out against the brutality.

          Soon he will be visited by yamraj and be born again as an e-coli inside a homosexuals rectum. This he may enjoy ….here is a smiley face ol man :)

          Btw I use your name to prove a point, well…call it a test..

          If there are truly Jihadi elements about India, the bogeymen which you have been conjuring..well it cant be that difficult for them to track you and then…the ol yamraj :) this will prove you correct ol man :) but alas you will not be around to celebrate, as you will be getting a hot load across your cell membrane in the rectum you will back in :)

  2. The Article 370 is simply to restore order and is for protection of people in the valley..

    Kashmiris youth is suffering because adolescence is a fragile age to mould one’s mind and thinking…
    children and youth are unneccesarily getting drawn into religious and political chaos surrounding kashmir..

    in the picture in the article..i see a father with his young boy in a protest……..why..??

    why does a father need to take his child for a protest…??..

    shouldn’t the child be in school..or at home..or playing..??

    once kashmiris..understand this logic and start appreciating life..they will surly benefit..

    currently kashmiri logic is restricted to 40 years of struggle..and children are being brainwashed into thinking that they are living in a prison…

    People who undersood the logic moved out of Kashmir..migrated to different part of India..and have successfully accomplished their goals in life…

    the current youth in the valley is uneccearily getting pulled in because of power hungry clerics and politicians who want to rule the valley…!!

    Kashmiris need to first understand what they want in life..from life.. otherwise they will keep on creating this war in their minds…and nobody will benefit..

    if they feel that they are part of pakistan..they can go and live in pakistan…nobody is stopping them..if they aredoing this for religion..well..pakistan is a muslim state..India has muslims…who are living peacfully….nobody is getting stopped from practising their religion….

    so what is it that kashmir people want…

    My brothers…in Kashmir..please understand that you are being misguided…by religious and political powers ..and you are wasting your life..with all the infighting..

  3. There are very little options for Kashmiris. Those that got out had the means to get out, those that did not continue to struggle.

    The outward hatred and animosity is becoming filial. One has to try and understand why this is happening.

    Kashmiris are suffering with continued PTSD day & night. Under the shadow of a muzzle there isn’t much security within a mindset.

    The blame for this can be put forth among various branches, be it secular or religious. The problem is there, it has to be tackled.

    What is strange is that the people are not allowed to decide among themselves what they want. Instead the people are divided in leadership and cause.

    A solution then? any solution?

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