Kashmiri children walk past an Indian post during a curfew in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Authorities have imposed a curfew on the movement of people in some parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir after separatist leaders called for a strike to mark the execution anniversaries of two separatists in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
Insurgency affects children in all the ways it affects adults, but also in different ways. Children are reliant on the care, empathy, and attention of adults who love them but the attachments were frequently disrupted during the entire phase of this generation. Most of the children in valley have lost their parents, preoccupation of parents in protecting and finding survival for the family, and emotional unavailability of miserable or distracted parents. The impacts in childhood unfavorably affect the life trajectory of children. Most of our children have lost the opportunity for education, love and affection in this era.
Between 1989 and 2017, the Kashmir valley have witnessed millions of deaths, kidnappings, tortures and most of the families have lost their bread earners due to insurgency. Children were of course, always been caught up. They have seen blood bathed bodies, they have listened the violent sounds of bullets and bombs, they have seen the people dragged from their houses, and were always in a state of gloomy, pain and despair. Most of the children remained in isolation as their parents were either in jail or have been killed in cross firings.
The effects are obvious, emotionally and psychologically this has affected generations of children and young people for the rest of their lives. A study has estimated that one out of three children who live in war like zones as in Kashmir could be vulnerable to develop some form psychopathological symptoms, and lower psychosocial functioning levels during their life time, which points to the volatile and violent environment they are living in. Those children, who will remain in these areas for longer period, may be exposed to posttraumatic stress symptomatology that varies from 10 to 90%, manifested by anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric morbidities including depression, disruptive behaviors, and somatic symptoms. The recovery time depends on the factors like extent of damage, treatment in post-traumatic period, and the coping capabilities of the child which is further dependent on the age of the child. Also in some cases, a child exposed to a lot of death and destruction at an early age can have a heart that can be scarred no further. That is what today we are witnessing in the valley, our youth who has passed all through the insurgency never fear of death and destruction. Further, we do not have traumatic centers and neither have we had knowledge about these things to coupe up with these symptoms. The violence in valley had affected millions of children that have serious repercussions on future generations. Threats that was on its boom during the early days of insurgency and had made comeback from last few years are seriously causing psychological disorders with all the insecurity, especially with the fear of kidnapping and explosions, is still booming in the minds of young generation. The “relentless bloodshed and the lack of professional help will see valley’s children growing up either deeply scarred or so habituated to violence that they keep the pattern going as they enter adulthood”. “Near about three decades, young Kashmir’s are listening the same stories of killings, torture and kidnappings. We must now learn instead about dialogue and compromise. Otherwise, we will continue to produce psychopathic personalities for whom violence is simply a means of negotiating daily life and let us not internalize the violence and not perpetuate it later.
(The author is Assistant Professor in Department of Environmental Science ITM University Gwalior)