Routine violence and muezzins’ calls for prayers shape the time-flow of daily life in Indian Kashmir. From traumatic memories of a guerrilla’s funeral to the present anti-India street-riots, throughout a maimed muhajideen’s tale, people’s destiny seems to be stretched between hope and anger, love and grief, poetry and brutality. Every milestone in people’s stories -being it the first army crackdown in the valley or the decision to leave for Afghanistan to get guerrilla-warfare training- seems to happen in a mosque, just immediately after prayers. Almost 30 years have gone since the beginning of the armed struggle and notwithstanding a widespread frustration, the controversial dream of Kashmir’s independence, along with the nightmare of the conflict, is still preserved alive. It is again after Friday’s prayers that Kashmiri youngsters regularly engage Indian soldiers in stone-throwing riots, and it is ultimately here that the vicious cycle of violence, nourished by new martyrs’ fresh blood, keeps perpetuating in the intimacy of ordinary life.
Simone Mestroni has developed visual storytelling skills along with his fieldwork research on ethnographic aspects of Kashmiri conflict. While completing his PhD in anthropology he has been working as video operator with Donatello Conti and Giulio Squarci, and as fixer for Fausto Podavini for his photographic works in India. In October 2017 his first documentary “After Prayers” Prayers” has been awarded with the Wenner Gren Foundation postdoctoral grant. Mestroni’s ethnographic book on Kashmir, titled “Lines of Control,” is going to be released by summer 2018 and will be used as textbook for academic courses in three Italian universities.