August/September 2017 - Srinagar, Kashmir, India
For centuries, Srinagar was a holiday destination for Maharajas, who, during the monsoon, were leaving the stifling heat from the Indians plains to experience the moderate climate from the foothills of the Himalayas. Nowadays, Srinagar enjoys a multiple heritage, its old mosques and its moguls' gardens are the symbols. The Dal lake offers an idyllic setting, which was honoured in various Bollywood productions, and makes from “heaven on earth” the quintessence of romanticism in the imaginary of many Indians.
This image contrasts with a much shade reality. The 15 of August 1947, India celebrated the 70 years of its independence, whereas Kashmir celebrated 70 years of occupation and disillusion. Since 1947, Kashmiris observe, helpless, the chess game between India and Pakistan. For India, let Kashmir go could give independentist ideas to other Indian regions, and its geostrategic position is vital in the conflict with Pakistan and China for the control of Himalayans territories. For the Pakistan, destabilizing Kashmir, by supporting groups considered as terrorists by New Delhi, is the extension of the fratricidal, started in 1947, and it’s also a way to appear as the protector of Muslims, whereas the Modi government, through Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), is more and more perceived as communautarist.
In this historical city, which preserves the Kashmir culture, and which the pride of Kashmiri people, the line between “heaven on earth” and “conflict zone” is very thin.