Mir Yasir Mukhtar presents a visual story about the age-old practice of leech therapy from his native Srinagar, with photographs taken at the onset of the current pandemic. Hirudinaria manillensis, or the Asian medicinal leech, secretes saliva and enzymes containing a wide variety of proteins that clear toxins from the human body, apart from serving as an anticoagulant, inhibitor, anti-inflammatory anesthetic and vasodilator. Hirudotherapy is more common than not in multiple parts of the world and has been classified as a medical device by the US FDA as of 2004. Mukhtar’s story revolves around an 18-year-old Hirudotherapist named Danish, who if called upon with the virally acclaimed cry, “Danishaa, kalle haa phot!” (translated “Danish, my head is exploding!”), gets to work by carrying out this centuries-old Kashmiri variant of the practice.
Mir Yasir Mukhtar
In this series of photographs, Mir Yasir Mukhtar diverts his lens to portray everyday life in Kashmir beyond the horrors that are captured by professionals from his field of photojournalism. In habitual scenarios, it is almost impossible to avoid images of war, conflict, tragedy and violence. However, as the images themselves communicate, an alternate Kashmir, and with it an alternate Srinagar, exists to show how Kashmiris try to live on a daily basis while being at the focal point of the oldest unresolved geopolitical conflict of global modernity.