And on his iphone he played the Surah Yaseen

Indian Occupied Kashmir

A video story, incorporating video and text, that was produced under curfew in Indian occupied Kashmir after Khanyar burnt in 2012.

It was early morning when we drove across the city. The camera was on my lap, covered lightly by a scarf, and on his iphone he played the Surah Yaseen. He said this was for our protection, for our safekeeping.

The streets were not exactly empty, but they had been subdued. There was an uncertain expectancy in the air. Concern.

People gathered outside their homes on the old city’s bi-lanes, and watched us pass. Noting the slightest movement on the roads they made assumptions about the state of things on the side of town that we had come from.

One man, signalling with his hand, cautioned us. We veered and took a left.

Here. The state relies not simply on the threat of what it can do, but also of what it does do. Here. People die. And here. The armed forces are given legal immunity for their actions.

That morning they were out, in groups, armed, standing on street corners, at each intersection, along the bridge. Their concertina barbed wire, ready. Their vehicles stationed, strategically. The streets had been subdued. Held back by a violence that was not as of yet actual, but potential. And very real.

As we drove home, early that morning, through a city that was under curfew – through a city that had been under curfew countless times before – we barely spoke. I held the camera on my lap, covered lightly by a scarf, and on his iphone he played the Surah Yaseen.

I turned back, and that early morning view shook me. I spun the camera around, pulled it from under my scarf, and pushed it out of the left hand side of the car. As they say, If there is a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.

Then suddenly we were stopped. I pulled the camera down and covered it again. They questioned the driver, and then let us pass. Only three more kilometres till home. And on his iphone he played the Surah Yaseen.


for Neelofar, Manzoor and Rupin – after Khanyar

New work by Alana Hunt and Ingrid Dernee, Mori Gallery, Sydney, 2012.