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From the Streets of Kashmir to the Heart of Palestine — A Photograph by Zainab

May 15, 2021

Earlier this week, a photograph was circulated on social media platforms (like Twitter and Facebook) showing a Kashmiri man marching with a Palestinian flag through the streets of Srinagar. Those who posted the photo did not give its author her proper credit nor indicate the source of such a powerful image, resulting in yet another case of copyright infringement and outright creative theft.

Inverse Journal got in touch with Zainab, the photographer of this iconic scene. Here she presents the photograph along with her account of how such image-making came about in line with the tradition of visual storytelling that speaks more profoundly than words perhaps could—especially on a sad occasion such as Nakba Day (Dhikra an-Nakba). Zainab’s photograph carries even greater symbolic meaning when considering that she produced it while documenting—by pure chance—the remains of an Al-Quds Day (Youm-e Quds) march in Kashmir that is carried out on the last Friday of Ramadan to show support for Palestine and its people and to protest Zionism.

As such, Zainab’s photograph situates two major commemorative days (Dhikra an-Nakba and Youm-e Quds) in one frame as she captures the heartfelt scene on the streets of Srinagar (Kashmir) to reflect the great sense of solidarity that Kashmiris feel towards Palestine and its dispossessed people. As can be observed, the image is taken with a mobile camera, and is raw in all aspects, much like the sentiment of solidarity that is felt around the world and especially in a place like Kashmir that knows sorrow and loss all too deeply.

Along with the her note, Inverse Journal has included relevant links to Zainab’s broader work.

Photographer's Note

 

It was the last Friday of Ramadan, and I was on my way to catch a bus for Jamia Masjid while walking through the bylanes of Maisum. This man carrying a huge Palestinian flag caught my attention. I assume the Youm-e Quds protest had just concluded in the locality, and he was taking the flag home, fearlessly carrying it on his shoulder. To share some context about the neighbourhood, Maisum is highly militarised as it is also where Yasin Malik—leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)—resides. Over the last three decades, Fridays in this locality have been especially tense.

Immediately upon seeing the man with the flag of Palestine marching, I was a little nervous to take out my camera and photograph him. Taking the camera out would have only made him conscious and aware of my presence, which could have potentially been perceived as disruptive or even disrespectful towards his sense of privacy. But I also did not want to miss this visual that summed up Kashmir's solidarity with Palestinians so well and within such an ephemeral moment that was unfolding right before me. Hence, I took out my phone camera, and waited for the man to get ahead of me, so that I could photograph him from the back, so as to not reveal his identity. And that is how this photograph was made in the month of May, 2019.

Photograph by Zainab

A man carries a Palestinian flag on his shoulder in Srinagar's Maisum on the eve of Youm-e Quds.
May 2019. Srinagar, Kashmir. Digital.
Photograph by Zainab.

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About the Contributor

Zainab is a visual artist and writer based in Kashmir. She is currently pursuing Bachelors in Mass Communication and Media Production from Women's College, Srinagar. She is the co-founder of Her Pixel Story which is a growing women's photography collective from Kashmir.

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