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  • Writer's pictureSriram Elango

Psychological Impacts on Children in Kashmir

Fueled by a never-ending political contention between three global powers, all containing armies capable of engendering world war, Kashmiri society has collapsed.

The flowering rose of peaceful protests against these military conflicts has also brought with it the sharp thorns of suppression, bringing rise to unrest and violence consuming the innocent and peaceful citizens who inhabit the land.

Often ignored in light of politics, the children of Kashmir continue to endure violence and are subject to immense impacts, both physically and mentally.

Though rubber bullets inflict widespread damage on children, equally severe and more ubiquitous are the psychological impacts observed in an increasingly polarized and stressed public.

A study conducted by MSF(Doctors Without Borders) in collaboration with Kashmir University and the Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience conveys that approximately 41% of all people surveyed in Kashmir exhibited noticeable symptoms of depression, signaling a significant collapse in the psyche of thousands.

Their whole lives enveloped with brutality, many children of Kashmir have lost all feeling of security, feeling of safety, and no longer encounter the luxury of freedom. PTSD, anxiety, and a diverse array of psychological disorders cripple Kashmir’s future generations, inevitable to an eventual collapse and restructuring of society as a whole.

Already troubled with child labor, the loss of early development and the experiences of childhood have long been swept away, establishing a precedent of misery and stress.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled this blazing fire of injustice and inequality, with both army/terrorism and quarantine applying pressure on the already struggling population.

Recovering from an 18-month long ban on internet services after the region’s semi-autonomy was fully revoked, the pandemic has enabled deepened isolation, with children being further affected after education was halted as a whole.

Sprouting from the blood of conflict, the pandemic has brought with it growing concern of mental health, with educators and parents alike conveying alterations in emotions and increases in suicidal thoughts within children.

Regardless of the havoc formed and deaths created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, children continue to be falsely arrested, incarcerated, and inevitably abused in police stations under the heavily exploited Public Safety Act, where countless youths across the region have been taken away from their families and sent to detention centers. The separation of family further demolishes any remaining strain of mental health, spreading anxiety among Kashmir’s many vulnerable families and children.

The importance of this multidimensional issue cannot be understated, with the future of millions being deteriorated as social tensions alter the souls of many. Kashmiri students and children hold the destiny of an entire state within their hands — deconstructing the minds and crashing the sanity that is held within them ensures the destruction of society itself.

It is through the action of stabilizing the health and mental health of the children and citizens of Kashmir that will allow it to arise from the ashes of conflict, and rebirth as a phoenix of prosperity — one founded on the wellbeing of all, and the desolation of none.

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