Indian-administered Kashmir is witnessing some of its most violent protests.
More than 30 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in clashes with security forces in the past week following the killing of popular rebel leader Burhan Wani, 22.
After Wani’s death, young people, who constitute the largest chunk of Kashmir’s population, have taken to throwing stones in protest on the streets and using social media to tell their stories.
Demonstrations continue despite heavy a security presence and a shutdown of mobile Internet and phone services.
Al Jazeera went to the streets of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, to meet some of those involved.
|Sameer Ahmad Bhat, 23, cricket player|
The youth is really frustrated. Today, if I am with someone, I don’t even know if that person will be alive or be martyred tomorrow at the hands of the security forces. Why do they fire at us? Elsewhere in the country, protesters are dispersed with water cannons. Why are bullets and pellets used in Kashmir?
In the past few days, lots of boys have lost their eyes because the security forces are using pellets on them. Hundreds are in the hospital with serious injuries.
That is why I say we are forced to hurl stones at security forces.
|Farzana Sayed, 26, journalist|
People’s core issues are not being resolved.
We’re always waiting for an opportunity to participate in a debate about Kashmir, but we don’t get to debate in more peaceful times, which is the basic reason this is happening. Because you [Indian officials] don’t address the core issues at the time you are supposed to.
Successive governments have failed in their attempts to engage the youth. Maybe they don’t give a damn about what happens to the common person. They debate the problems of the stone throwers, only when there is agitation.
|Aaqib Hussain, 25, doctor|
What we are seeing in Kashmir now isn’t anger … It would be wrong to call it anger. We are fighting a political war. This is people’s aspiration to a right of self-determination. And it gets manifested from time to time.
When the armed struggle for self-determination was dipping, Burhan Wani came as a new hope. In him, our generation had a new armed guerilla icon. Our movement has entered a new phase. Support for an armed struggle has grown. The youth is getting attracted to guns again.
|Essar Batool, 28, activist|
People say: “What is the difference? Haven’t you ever been molested or assaulted by a civilian?” Yes, but the thing is, you know – a soldier has a gun.
Burhan challenged the whole narrative of a Pakistan-sponsored insurgency, because he was a Kashmiri, he never crossed the border, he picked up arms here and he never went for training to Pakistan.
Everyone thought of him as a son. When he was killed, that really angered everyone, young and old.
|Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, 28, writer and activist|
There is no mechanism to redress the issues of the youth by the state or its institutions.
So they have taken to guns to fight the state for their right to self-determination. As pacifists, we are trying to teach our youth that they can address these issues through peaceful means.
We are using social media to generate awareness about the Kashmir conflict because it’s one of the forgotten conflicts in the world.
Follow Neha Tara Mehta on Twitter: @nehataramehta