Kashmir – On Going Home : Sumit Dayal has won the National Geographic All Roads Photography 2010, category Emerging Photographer, with his long term project in Kashmir ‘On Going Home’.
An exhibition of the awardees’ work can be seen in the outdoor courtyard of the National Geographic Society from September 27 through November 21, 2010.
The vale of Kashmir is a low-lying fertile Himalayan valley fed by many rivers. It is renowned for its natural beauty and quaint lifestyle; horses graze soothing green meadows, and gondolas float to the sound of adhans, the Muslim calls to prayer. Memories of a fairy-tale childhood drew me back to Kashmir, but not all is paradise here.
The Kashmir dispute began within weeks of the birth of independent India, in 1947. Indian troops fought invading Pashtun (also called Pathan tribesmen) who sought to claim the state of Pakistan. These were the first sparks in what has evolved into one of the lingest ongoing conflicts. The nuclear capabilities of both India and Pakistan have earned this disputed strip of land the tag of one of the world’s most dangerous place.
There is a sea of stories of atrocities, disappeared persons, absuctions, unidentified graves, killings, and mass migration of minority communities. I feel the need to unfold my past and be able to associate with the culture and the history of my ancestors.
I hope that On Going Home will lead me in the direction of finding my true identity.