Episode 43: Kashmir

Our guest this week is a young Kashmiri woman currently living in Mumbai.

Situated in a mountainous region between India and Pakistan, Kashmir has been a nominal part of India since shortly after India and Pakistan both gained independence from the British in 1947. It’s also India’s only Muslim majority state and was the battleground in two separate wars between India and Pakistan and several armed conflicts between the two nuclear-armed rivals, including one limited engagement earlier this year.

Under article 370 of the Indian constitution Kashmir was guaranteed broad autonomy, including a separate constitution, and freedom to administer its own affairs in all areas except for currency, communications, defense, and foreign policy. Over the past few decades much of this autonomy has been slowly rolled back by the central government in Delhi, but one key feature that remained was Kashmiris exclusive rights to buy and own land in Kashmir. This key remaining feature of Kashmiri autonomy was eliminated when Hindu Nationalist Prime Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government eliminated article 370 from the Indian constitution earlier this month. Since that time landlines, mobile communication links, and the Internet have been cut, and Kashmiris have been cut off from the rest of the world and their families in India.

Taken in Gaza City, Palestine, April, 2013. Photo credit: Eric Maddox

Taken in Gaza City, Palestine, April, 2013. Photo credit: Eric Maddox


Episode 23: Reporting India

Meena Menon is the author of three books, and her reporting career has seen her covering a broad range of topics in India, and also took her to Islamabad, Pakistan as the correspondent for The Hindu. We discuss her experiences as an Indian reporting from Pakistan and India-Pakistan relations, the suicides of tens of thousands of Indian farmers since the 1980’s and the colonial legacy of the cotton industry, the 1992-93 sectarian riots in Mumbai, and her thoughts on the upcoming general elections in India, the world’s largest democracy. You can find links to her three books below.

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Correction: in the introduction I mistakenly stated that the Babri Mosque was located in the state of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya is a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh.


Episode 18: Escape from Afghanistan to France

Abdul is a photographer from Afghanistan, where he worked with the US military before having to flee the country after death threats from the Taliban. What followed was an overland odyssey across Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, the Balkans, and back and forth across the EU, until he was able to claim asylum in France, where he currently lives. Along the way he endured prison, forced labor, beatings, deportations, and kidnapping. His is one of the more remarkable stories of resilience that I have come across in my years of traveling and working in the Middle East and anywhere else in the world.

We were connected by the people at No Name Kitchen, a Spanish NGO that provides food, sleeping bags and supplies, and a community space for the growing numbers of refugees stuck in Serbia and more recently in Bosnia.