“Ghar’e Wand’hai Ghar’e Saasa”

Ansab Jehan

In Kashmir, a lifetime of savings is spent in building a house. Along with money, people also invest their emotions in the process. Apart from being shelters, these houses are also keepers of memory. This piece draws attention to the attack on residential properties in Kashmir through disproportionate use of force. These houses which are later called ‘collateral’ embody the loss inflicted by years of militarization in the valley.

The situation in Kashmir is such that it has integrated entire households into the conflict, from members to the buildings. The practice of blowing up houses in vicinities of an encounter site has become a common practice. This bombing and burning down of houses, which often does not involve a single household, has rendered many families homeless. Other than the loss of material property, this leads to emotional and psychological distress as well. This transgression can be seen as a strategy of deterrence, to instil fear among people by putting them through a collective punishment. It is an attack on the identities of the people and is aimed at breaking their will.

What is most startling about this gross violation, other than its occurrence itself, is the lack of accountability, which results in no provisions for compensations for the ‘collateral damage’. The metaphorical wounds inflicted on the houses are varied. While some are razed to the ground, others carry markers of visible damage. The humans are left with a plethora of abrasions to tend to.

This violation, however, is not new. It is a practice which was carried out in the 90’s on a mass scale as well. In its current form, it manifests as scrutinized numbers, which can only be calculated by those who inflict the very injury.

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[1] “Ghar’e Wand’hai Ghar’e Saasa” is a Kashmiri proverb which translates to ‘Home, I offer a thousand houses.’

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Ansab Jehan is a virtual artist who explores a wide range of themes related to Kashmir in her artworks. At present, she is studying medicine and is based in Iran.

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