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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Wounded Paradise of Kashmir

Analysts suggest stone-throwing has become a symbolic act of resistance employed by a new generation of Kashmiris inspired by the Palestinian intifadas

 Kashmiris raise their hands at a rally against Indian rule in Srinagar in the summer of 2010. Protesters demanding an end to Indian rule held massive rallies in 2008 and 2010, leading to confrontations with the Indian army and severe crackdowns

Indian soldiers take cover after protesters throw rocks at them during a demonstration in Srinagar

Dal Lake is a popular destination among those visiting the Kashmir Valley. But with the eruption of the insurgency in 1989, tourism declined dramatically. In recent years, however, the number of people visiting the region has begun again to climb

The Old City of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, has historically been a stronghold for those opposed to Indian rule and has come under siege from Indian forces several times in the past 20 years of conflict

Women offer prayers at Srinagar's politically important Grand Mosque. Post-traumatic stress disorder is thought to be on the rise among Kashmiri women

 Indian soldiers stand guard outside a military camp located inside a cinema in the commercial district of Srinagar

Children walk towards their home in Kunan Poshpora village in the Kupwara district, where, according to human rights organisations, at least 31 women - some put the figure as high as 100 - were gang-raped by Indian soldiers on February 23, 1991. Civil rights groups say the Indian army has systematically used rape as a weapon of war in Jammu and Kashmir

Two children play in a field near Dardpora village in the Kupwara district. Almost the entire male population of the village was killed during the early years of the conflict

The entrance to the Lolab valley in northern Kashmir. The area was a rebel stronghold until the year 2000, but it is now controlled by the Indian army who close the gate after dusk to stop any civilian movement into or out of the valley

The ruins of a hotel in Srinagar, where two rebels fought a 22-hour gun battle with Indian forces in early 2010 after they attempted to penetrate a military camp on the other side of the road

Gulzar Ahmad Dar used to be a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). He has suffered from mental illness since allegedly being tortured by Indian forces while in captivity. Medical experts say thousands of people in the valley are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the conflict

Shahmali Begum, the mother of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, the founder of the JKLF who was hanged in a jail in New Delhi in 1984. Two of Begum’s other sons were killed by Indian forces, another 'disappeared' and a fourth remains in an Indian prison

Husan Bano is a member of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). Her son, Sayed Anwar, is among the approximately 8,000 people who have 'disappeared' in Jammu and Kashmir

Graves of unidentified men are marked by numbers in the Kupwara district. Civil rights activists have recently claimed to have unearthed the largest unmarked mass grave in Kashmir, where more than 1,000 bodies are thought to have been buried

Bihest-e-Shuhdai-e-Kashmir, or the Paradise of the Martyrs of Kashmir, is the biggest graveyard of Muslim rebels and civilians killed by Indian forces in the past 20 years. There are an estimated 500 such 'martyrs' graveyards' across the region

Monday, 30 January 2012

Qatar's Hunting Games

 In an oil and gas rich country where foreigners outnumber citizens almost five to one, Qataris struggle to keep the traditions of their bedouin culture alive. For thousands of years in Qatar, much like elsewhere in the Gulf region, many lived the life of a nomad  travelling the arid land and hunting prey along the way. In the barren openness of the Gulf desert, hunters learned to keep and train animals with the ability to pursue fast-moving prey.
Falcons and Salukis were two of these animals, and today they're kept as pets to take part in competitions, such as the third annual International Falcon and Hunting Festival in southeastern Qatar.
The festival's main competitions involve the keeping and training of falcons, or falconry, a practice originating thousands of years ago in Asia, which later spread to Europe and around the globe. Today, wild falcons can be found on every continent (save Antarctica), but only certain species are able to be kept and trained as pets.