Aru Valley is located at a distance of about 12 kms from Pahalgam. I captured one of the boys playing in the valley. Before I approached them, they were taking bath in the chilling water that tumbled down the mountains. Muneeb was a school going lad and studied in eighth standard. He lived in the nearby village of middle class merchants and shop-owners. He was a shy boy. We told him he should play a role in a Bollywood film because of his handsome looks but all his friends started joking about how he runs away from girls. They teased him when we admired his aquiline nose and good looks. I was startled by the sheer simplicity of the boys. They knew nothing of the malice that sits surrounding their little haven.
The intended purpose of taking this picture was to project an innocence that knows no guile, no subterfuge. The boys were lively and cheerful, far from having the radical outlook Kashmiri boys are known to possess. The picture is all about dismantling stereotypes. It is my attempt to plea for a re- examination of our assumed ideas about Kashmir and its people.
Text courtesy the artist