Screaming Canvas, a short video documentary by a Kashmiri activist, continues to attract huge viewership on social media since its production during the peak of unrest in the Valley in 2016. While a majority of people appreciated the “innovative efforts highlighting Kashmir’s pain”, its producer Omar Hafiz says that the idea was to make the young Indians aware of the actual situation in his homeland.

When Kashmir was on the boil, Omar, a development practitioner by profession, remained indoors mostly as he had no work to do. Initially, he helped the wounded to get to hospitals but after a month, he decided to do something different to get people’s attention towards Kashmir issue. As a part of his plan, which he named Athwaas: Handshake for Peace, this 27-year-old man travelled across 17 states to meet young artists. “I would ask each of them one simple question; if they could portray the pain of Kashmir to express solidarity with its people?”

 

The reaction was surprising. “I found many such people either had no knowledge of the issue or were misinformed. For most of them, Kashmir was nothing beyond a beautiful place.  But I didn’t tend to lead them. Instead, I advised them to verify the reality through mediums like Google. And, it worked,” he recaps.

Omar says incidents like Kunan Posh Pora mass rape and recent burning of schools in Kashmir were the main issues which attracted the attention of a majority of artists who started questioning these topics.  Finally over a dozen artists expressed their willingness to contribute through artwork.

Omar documented their contribution in an 8-minute video and posted it on the internet.  “We posted it on multiple mediums like Youtube, Facebook and Instagram and the results have been overwhelming. We have over 1.5 million views, and this figure is still rising encouragingly.”

An MCA passout from the Islamic University in his native south Kashmir, Omar says he wanted to tell the rest of the India that the 2016 -unrest, which erupted in the wake of killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani was not the actual issue. “Burhan episode was just a trigger.”