Kashmiri Students Paint Srinagar Walls With Cultural Graffiti

31 May 2015
Focus News
Tawqeer Hussain

Srinagar: These walls on the streets of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir were flushed with anti-India slogans and messages directed at the Indian Army till recently. But things have changed for good. Five students from Kashmir University's fine arts department are on a mission to change the mood in the valley. Armed with brushes, palettes and buckets of colours, they are depicting the Valley's culture in the streets of Srinagar with graffitis on walls around the airport road. Saqib Bhat, Sumaira Majeed, Maria Shamiri, Zaid Bhat and Suhail Sofi - all in their early 20s - have come together for this unique project breathing a new life to the walls that would normally feature anti-India slogans. Working under the guideline of famous Kashmiri artist Masood Hussain, each of these students is carefully crafting the local culture on the walls. Hussain has even suggested the theme for the murals for the project cleared by Municipal Council Srinagar which is aimed at the beautification of city walls. With three murals already on the airport road in Srinagar, it allows tourists to have a glimpse of Kashmir's culture - past and present. 'The project is aimed at the beautification of Srinagar city and we don't want to run into any controversy,' 22-year-old Bushra Mir, a student of Applied Arts at Kashmir University told FocusNews.com from Srinagar. 'We live in a conflict zone and we are conscious that we don't choose or participate in anything that initiates trouble or creates controversies,' she added. But the project that has been going on for a month now has raised some eyebrows among the separatists. They are questioning whether there is a 'hidden agenda' of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's government to slowly erase all the anti-India sloganeering from the walls of Kashmir. Taking a queue from Palestinian movement, separatists painted slogans like 'We want Freedom', 'Go India Go Back', 'Police State' - across walls in Srinagar. For years, police and locals have been attempting every possible method to erase them, but to no avail. However rejecting controversies, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) commissioner Tufail Matoo said the aim of this initiative was to give the current generation an insight about Kashmir's cultural past. 'There were some blank spaces in the city and the intention was to fill them and give people a glimpse of our culture,' Matoo said. The young artists painting these cultural murals say that they want people coming to Kashmir to get a glimpse into the history of the state through their groundbreaking effort.