Camillo Pasquarelli

The Valley of Shadows


Project Description

The valley of Kashmir, a territory disputed by India and Pakistan since 1947, is one of the most militarized zones in the world. In 2010, the Indian government provided the security forces a new weapon which was deployed in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The weapon is shotgun shells filled with hundreds of small lead pellets which since then have been used to keep urban protests under control. Defined as a “non-lethal” weapon, pellet guns should be aimed at the lower part of the body.

On July 8, 2016, guerrilla group Hizbul-e-Mujahideen’s young commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with the Indian army. Popular, especially among the youth thanks to his use of social networks to spread his message, Wani’s martyrdom was the spark that ignited the entire valley. The government imposed a four-month-long curfew on the local population, while separatist leaders called for continuous strikes.

Hundreds of young boys filled the streets of Kashmir protesting against the “Indian occupation”, throwing stones against the army and the Kashmiri police. Since July 2016, security forces have responded with pellet guns extensively. According to Amnesty International, the new weapon is responsible for blinding hundreds and killing 14 people. Many of the victims were not involved in the clashes with security forces. Those who were hit during the protests tend to avoid speaking about it openly, fearing retaliation by the police.

For youngsters left with one eye, reading has become too painful, forcing them to abandon their studies and giving up the chance of pursuing higher education. Men are left blind and the only breadwinner in families are unable to work and provide for their beloved ones. Carrying dozens of pellets in their bodies, victims face unknown long-term health consequences.

Left partially or totally blind, victims speak of the darkness descended upon their lives. The only things left to see are the faint shadows that surround them.


Biography

Camillo was born in Rome in 1988. Only after completing his studies in political science and anthropology in 2015, he decided to devote himself entirely to photography. Nowadays, he is mostly interested in personal and long-term projects and deals with documentary photography through the combination of the anthropological approach and the photographic medium.

Since 2015, he has worked on a visual project about the valley of Kashmir, India, exploring the notions and the experiences of conflict, memory, religion and political aspirations.

In 2017, he received one of the Alexia Foundation Student Grants to continue with “The Endless Winter of Kashmir”.

His work has been published in Time, Der Spiegel, Mashable, Il Reportage, Gazeta Wyborcza, Il Manifesto, Left, The Post Internazionale, East. His works have been displayed at exhibitions in Moscow, Rome, Getxo, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Hyderabad, and Bologna.

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Thaddeus Pope

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Thaddeus Pope is the Director of Visual Communications for The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) and the Creative Director of the IAFOR Documentary Photography Award.