Abstract – “Houses are murdered just as their inhabitants are killed and the memories of things are slaughtered, wood, stones, glass, iron, mortar – scattered like human limbs. And cotton silk, linen, notebooks, books – all torn apart like the unspoken words of people who did not have the time to say them.” – (Extract taken from The House Murdered by Mahmoud Darwish)
Conflict involves situations in which two or more parties choose costly inputs that are adversely combined against one another and generate no positive externalities to third parties (Sergios Skaperdas 2011). The conflict zones have a built environment that is kind of a slow violence. The people are associated with their places and watching it get destroyed is traumatic. An assumption of this literature is that the destruction of urban scape including the iconic and prominent features of the city which were highly valuable both tangible and intangible have lost their importance. In the absence of positive environmental characteristics, the depression has increased even more and people have disconnected themselves from their own native place. Despite the fact that the heritage has been an essential part of the identity of the city, No potential solution has been found to conserve it. The heritage has fallen prey to the inefficiency of previous master plans that discouraged the conservation of built heritage and repair of reconstruction of dilapidated structures. The absence of heritage policy is another reason for its slow decay. There is a gross violation of heritage act across the city. However, this research will focus on the neglect of the local people being one of the main reasons for this degradation. Illustrated with the help of study and surveys, this research is the first comprehensive analysis of the post traumatic disorder being the cause for the damaged urban environment in Srinagar. The selection of cases and literature was designed to offer evidence to support the hypothesis and help in the diagnosis. It offers an original perspective to those seeking to better understand the psychological disorders as a major catalyst for the damage of urban fabric in a conflict ridden zone. In this sense, the argument will help in the provocation of thought for changes to be incorporated in urban design to enhance the sense of belonging among the inhabitants. This research however does not talk about the genesis of conflict and its nature.
This navigation of this research in itself was a challenging task. The various aspects of the research like selection of cases and studies, combating the counter argument or interviewing the respondents etc. were equally time taking and experimental. Some elements were discovered through case study and interview. On the basis of which remedies in terms of environmental makeover, Design and policies has been proposed.
Tags & Index Terms – Conflict Zone, Urban Scape, Post Traumatic Disorder, Srinagar.
1. Background and Context
A detailed study of BBC that Kashmir remains one of the world’s most intractable and important disputes. The conflict destroys the safe environment and creates a state of terror which penetrates into the entire fabric of grassroots of social relations, as well as subjective mental life as a means of social control. Therefore, the inhabitants of conflict ridden areas should have some peculiar architectural demands. Neglecting the fact that there is a rapid growth in the percentage of victims of post traumatic disorder syndrome which has led to social exclusion is a mistake. Not much work has been done on find out these forms of slow violence which can help designing solutions. This research was conducted to find out what the inhabitants around them find as a stressor and what can be done to resolve this issue. A high intensity conflict zone like Gaza was studied to understand how the ruptured urban fabric can trigger mental disorders. The author read about various proposals and theories given by sociologists and architects to combat this issue. After conducting interviews various forms of environmental stressors were recorded and 90% of the respondents agreed that they have no connection and reverence for their city as should be. The proposals have been drafted on the basis of this information collected through various sources. To assist in determining the future direction of medical humanitarian assistance in terms of washing away the environmental stressors. This paper presents the main findings related to the role of the Psychological disorders as a major catalyst for ruptured urban fabric. Srinagar is the prime site on the basis of which hypothesis, argument and theory is produced.
2. Kashmir Conflict: A Brief History
The British rule over Jammu and Kashmir terminated in 1947. During partition, the Kashmiri population – the majority of whom is Muslim – was promised a choice of joining either India or Pakistan through a popular vote but this plebiscite never took place. Instead, this partition was the start of a long history of conflict .Both India and Pakistan have made control of a unified Kashmir an essential cornerstone of their national identities and have fought several wars between 1947 and 2002 on this issue. The ceasefire line between Pakistan and India, named the “Line of Control” in 1972, still exists today, separating this territory of around 2.2 million square kilometres into three parts. India controls the largest part, with the rest governed by Pakistan and China.
Up to twenty years ago the conflict was mainly an interstate affair between Pakistan and India, but in 1988 Kashmiri militants started a liberation movement. The low level war (‘militancy’) between the liberation movement and the Indian army spiralled into a cycle of armed conflicts with the civilian population caught between the fighting parties. Officially, 20,000 have died and 4, 000 have disappeared since the start of the militancy – in 2004 alone, 1587 militancy incidents and 1263 deaths including 479 civilians were officially recorded – however, according to other sources these figures are substantially higher. The conflict has also led to displacement of Kashmiri Hindu or Pundits and Muslims from the Kashmir Valley. Violence affects nearly everybody living in Kashmir. A recent population survey found a lifetime prevalence of traumatic events of 59% among the inhabitants of four districts of the Indian part of Kashmir. The most frequent traumatic events encountered were: firing and explosions (81%) and exposure to combat zones (74%). Traumatic events and the way people cope with them have a crucial role in the development of psychological distress and pathology such as anxiety disorders (including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and major depressive disorder. Very little is known about the impact of the damaged built environment on the psychology of Kashmiri population.
3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them. This could be a car or other serious accident, physical or sexual as-sault, war or torture, or disasters such as bushfires or floods. As a result, the person experiences feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.
PTSD is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. However symptoms may not appear until several months or even years later. Some of the symptoms are:
- inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic events
- persistent fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame
- markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
- feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
- persistent inability to experience positive emotions
- irritable or aggressive behaviour
- reckless or self-destructive behaviour
- hyper vigilance
- exaggerated startle response
- problems with concentration
Figure 1: A sketch depicting the conflict in city…………………………Source: Author
The causes, symptoms and cases have been thoroughly studied. Literature study has helped a lot to determine the trends in the development and effects of the post traumatic disorder syndrome. The symptoms of PTSD were discussed with respondents while interviewing to see who among them is eligible for the sample. Also the opinions of various mental health professionals were recorded to understand what kind of practices need to be done for the recovery of the victims of trauma. And what are the demands of the various categories of the patients suffering from stress disorder. The various innovative and effective methods adopted by psychologists have been studied. All this knowledge is vital to carry out the environmental diagnosis in a conflict ridden state like Kashmir
“A whole new generation of the Kashmiris is growing up in this atmosphere of great uncertainty-cum-insecurity and stress. The amount of emotional distress caused by the perpetual state of moment-to-moment living in Kashmir remains anything but hard to imagine.” – (Prof. Mushtaq A Margoob- Kashmir Narrator)
The impacts of conflict are complex and wide-ranging. They are not confined to countries at war—they ripple outward from the initial violence, spreading from individuals and communities to countries and regions. At the core of every conflict is insecurity. The violence and cruelty of conflict are associated with range of psychological and behavioural problems including depression, anxiety, and suicidal behaviour, post-traumatic stress, nightmares etc. Furthermore, psychological trauma may become evident in disturbed and antisocial behaviour, such as family conflict and aggression towards others. This situation is often exacerbated by the availability of weapons and by people becoming habituated to violence after long exposure to conflict. The impact of conflicts on mental health is, however, extremely complex and unpredictable. It is influenced by a host of factors such as the nature of the conflict, the kind of trauma and distress experienced, the cultural context, and the resources that individuals and communities bring to bear on their situation. (Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology. Volume 10 Number 1, January 2013)
The statistical figures while assessing the psychological problems experienced by respondents, displayed a clear and evident picture of tremendous effect. The respondents were having multiple psychological problems in which majority of the respondents have become fearful, they were feeling insecure which has made them unsure whether they will come back home alive or not whenever they venture out and there is a fear of re-occurrence of the same incident, which has happened to them or their family member. The victims are having sleeping disorders, they don’t sleep well, because of fearful thoughts and the re-experiencing episodes of the incident and fearing to get victimized again. They find it difficult to get sleep. Either they got no sleep or they woke up in the middle of night and failed to go to sleep again. They don’t enjoy the life after experiencing the violent incident. They have lost interest in life after losing their dear ones. With death and destruction everywhere, no-one in the pre-sent study expected an interesting life, we also found other problems like Stress, depression and, re-experiencing of events, aggressive behaviour, nightmares etc. at greater percentages.
Further, the study revealed that those whose family members were missing were having long duration of mental ailment. It is because the situation didn’t allow them to come out of this trauma. The respondents, whose sons, husbands or relatives have disappeared, are not able to perform their last rituals, which would lessen their grief. Time doesn’t seem to heal their wounds because they believe that dear ones are alive and their heart refuses to accept the reality that they might not be alive. This constant agony perhaps develops into long duration of mental ailment.
The mental illness has also resulted in the deterioration of their physical health. Many people who have multiple physical health problems where hypertension rated highest followed by gastroenterological problems and the underlying cause is emotional trauma. Besides other physical health problems like cardiac problems, headache, general weakness etc. are also found.
The study reveals high percentage of the respondents took treatment either through general practitioners or physicians and peers. Firstly, they believe in the curative touch of peers and second, they didn’t want to categorize themselves as mentally ill most probably due to the fear of social stigma attached to it, they took anti-depressants and tranquilizers prescribed by general practitioner or physicians. They are reluctant to take psychiatric treatment from hospital or any other psychiatric clinic. Further, the study highlights the unawareness of people about any rehabilitation centres or any other NGO and showed grievances towards the government. The absence of community centres where the people with stress related disorders could be rehabilitated, has further contributed to their problems. All this information is very important, for the design solutions to be formulated will cater to this category of people who apparently have lost interest in everything including the developmental processes.
4. SOCIAL INCLUSION
Social inclusion is the act of making all groups of people within a society feel valued and important. Social inclusion can be defined as a number of affirmative actions undertaken in order to reverse the social exclusion of individuals or groups in our society. Social exclusion itself is a complex concept and is described by Silver (2007) as:
“A multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live.”
The origin of the concept of social exclusion can be traced back to France in the 1970’s and has since then been adopted, throughout Europe and beyond. A number of aspects from the available literature are worth mentioning:
- Social exclusion is multi-dimensional: Social exclusion goes beyond the issue of material poverty as it is also seen as encompassing other forms of social disadvantages such as lack of regular and equal access to education, health care, social care, proper housing. Causes for exclusion also go beyond material poverty and encompass a wide range of reasons why individuals or groups might be excluded, such as discrimination against immigrants, ethnic minorities, the disabled, the elderly or ex-offenders. In short one can be socially excluded in a multitude of ways, for a multitude of reasons.
- Social exclusion is a process: Social exclusion is not merely a condition that is the outcome of a process, but a process in itself. Due to the multidimensional nature of social inclusion, it remains hard to interrelate these dimensions over time. The accumulation of a number of disadvantages may result in a self-reinforcing cycle that makes it difficult to attribute causality to one specific factor or an-other. Just as the idea of the multidimensionality of social exclusion has lead social scientists to adapt the way social exclusion is measured, so does the notion that social exclusion is not static, but dynamic and different individuals or groups find themselves in different stages of the social exclusion process, be it only temporarily, recurrently or continuously.
- Social exclusion is context-specific: We should keep in mind that most nations have different interpretations of what it means to be socially excluded. Social exclusion has many definitions based on national and ideological notions of what it means to belong to society. These notions often differ from region to region, neighbourhood to neighbourhood and on an individual level as well.
- Social exclusion from an individual and collective perspective: Social exclusion can be observed from both, an individual as a collective perspective. From the first perspective, it entails the individual’s lack of access or capacity to the multitude of social opportunities brought about by being included into mainstream society. From the collective perspective, social exclusion breaks the larger social bond that holds society together.
5. Inclusion by design
The quality of buildings and spaces always has a strong influence on the quality of people’s lives. Decisions about the design, planning and management of places can help to enhance or restrict a sense of belonging. They can increase or reduce feelings of security, stretch or limit the boundaries, promote or reduce the mobility, and improve or damage health. They can remove real and imagined barriers between communities and foster understanding and generosity of spirit. Even though accessibility has improved over the last decade, and planning policy has shifted, with investment providing new facilities to the once-excluded communities, the fact remains that poor and disadvantaged people are far more likely to live in poor quality environments. Social, cultural and economic inequalities are still being literally built into new places, and planners and designers need to examine more closely the impact of their decisions.
6. Case Study Of Srinagar
Recognize and build on distinctive characteristics of Srinagar including their human and cultural values, history and natural systems (Heritage and Conservation) Srinagar city is one of the oldest cities in Himalayas, having continuously existed for last 2500 years. Characterised by rich culture and heritage, historic Srinagar – Shahri Kashmir—situated on the bank of River Jhelum is a museum of vernacular architecture representing the evolution of the city. Mosques, Khankah’s, temples, fort, old wooden bridges, narrow lanes and precincts are important architectural elements of Srinagar city.
Jammu and Kashmir has a wonderful culture which has played an important role in earning accolades for it from across the world. Be it literature, lifestyle, language, religion, arts, crafts, music and dance. The Kashmir region enjoys significant ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. The region has historically been an important centre for Hinduism and Buddhism. The settlement of Persian and Central Asian Sufis, ulama, scholars, poets, technologists, physicians, artists and craftsmen in Shahr did not only produce changes of great morphological and demographic importance for the city, it made much deeper impact that ultimately went in making it a developed city so much so that its prosperity caused astonishment to the well-informed people coming from Central Asia and India. The Sufis and the ulama established a net-work of khanqahs, mosques, maktabas and madrasas to win over the people to Perso- Islamic culture. Indeed, the sultans and saints focused mainly on the capital city for its intensive culture change. Thus, the Shahr saw a remarkable culture change after the Persian and Central Asian matrix that gave it the name Shehr-e-Khaas. The image of the city has not developed alone by its beautiful landscape and built forms. But its also the socio profile that has contributed to its image. But this is a profile that has had a maximum impact on its outlook time to time.
One of the oldest reasons of tension in Asia is the curious case of Kashmir valley. Srinagar, which is the capital city, has been deeply influenced by this active conflict The public places are shrunk with meshes of barbed wires crisscrossing on the roads, Bunkers, Occupied structures, Barricades at regular intervals. The inhabitants come across these elements every day. During the field survey conducted in Srinagar, a huge number i.e. 80% house-holds reported insecurity. One of the reasons behind insecurity was found to be the presence of military camps. Therefore, studying Srinagar will help a lot in knowing about the various elements in surrounding that cause a psychological impact on the people
Srinagar-a special city, the cradle of Kashmir’s culture, tradition and hospitality. Ravaging effects of conflict can be found here. Educational foundations and health infrastructure is collapsing. Economic sectors that depend on capital and high levels of internal trade (for example, construction, finance, and manufacturing) are hit the hardest. As a growth without development looks ugly, so a development with no sense of security to the society has no charm. People who personally witness or are victims or survivors of shooting and physical violence are well aware of the pain, suffering and trauma these generate.
Figure 2: Facade of houses covered with sheets to prevent the stones from hitting the glass windows at Eidgah,Srinagar……..……Source: Google Search
What is historical lies in Srinagar, what is traditional lies in Srinagar, what is creative lies engraved on the trembling walls of its crumbling houses, what is artistic lies in its soul. It has survived the onslaught of invaders, the fury of natural disasters and the maddening tur-moil. But now it is being systematically destroyed and slowly wrapped and disposed off -as if it never existed. The thoughtful and spirited population of Srinagar is diluted by the slums created around aesthetically sensitive sites. Even when these slums pose a threat to the historical necklace of Downtown named Kalai the temporary sheds of yesterday were allowed to turn into concrete daemons of today-consuming Malkhah and the adjoining peaceful almond orchids. The Bachidarwaza is gone, the Kathidarwaza is falling brick by brick and Sangeen Darwaza is in ruins. This city of monuments is being defaced. “Makhdoom Sahib shrine of today – the plastic, the dirt, and the sheds and shops on the stairs … is this how a piece of beauty and spiritual delight is taken care of? We were promised a Naagar Nagar and instead were given a disaster in the form of cable car at Makhdoom Sahib-this expensive project never really took off though crores were spent on it.”Said Gh. Ahmad,A craftsman in the heart of Srinagar. The bending minar at Khanqah of Shah-i-Hamdan (RA) has a history to narrate. Forget about the quake, what about its post-flood reconstruction? The other Astaans and mosques are also in a state of neglect. Faced with the thunder of 90’s when fear replaced freedom, death replaced hope, destruction replaced construction, neglect replaced care, ultimately hatred replaced love and Srinagar of today symbolizing pain, anguish, despair, filth and destruction was born. It was never this chaotic, never this filthy never this ugly.
Downtown was sacred for its residents– its every lane, every by lane, its every Mohallah, every intersection is sacred- not just that ‘masters’ of Kashmiri art forms live or lived there, not just that it is the epicenter of Kashmir’s warmth and hospitality but because its lanes are sprinkled by the blood of the innocent people. Every ‘Kocha’ has hundred tales to narrate –tales of pain and loss are engraved on the walls that are fast disappearing. It is a place for memorials. A place where the history of Kashmir was written.
Nearly seven decades ‘post-independence’ and overflowing ‘nalis’ with faecal matter have been left to smear the lanes we hold with respect. Parts of Srinagar lack a proper drainage system. Which is a sign of neglect. Open drains are a threat to health, experts must have warned. They are a deterrent to tourism as well. Bringing down the architectural marvels of yesterday and replacing them with godowns and ugly malls which is a blot on the heritage status of Kashmir. And the most prominent example of the recklessness and neglect of the inhabitants.
“Where are those famous ‘yaars’ and ‘Kadals’? The historical bridges in rows on Jhelum-what is being done to preserve them? Where are those famous markets for ‘goldsmiths’ and ‘sarafs, the elite markets of ‘copper and tin’, the famous ‘masala’ markets, the ‘Gada Kocha’ why has all been converted into a commercial slum and why is all in ruins? Entire shop-keeper community of city seems to have converted roadside pavements into the space for their shops. Who is objecting? No one – because law of land is non-existent. “Said Ali Mohammad,A Local Shopkeeper in Nowhatta.The city does not have a single space ‘earmarked’ for parking. The main markets do not have public toilets – it is just chocked with overfilled shops and bloated with vehicles emitting smoke trying to override each other.
The Malkhah has shrunk so has Eidgah – the little distributaries of Jhelum overflew once and brought a havoc-but now they have become dumping grounds for filth and dirt. A dog guards a resident of City – heaps of dirt in downtown has made a dog’s survival so easy. Srinagar has the distinction of being a ‘dog’s city’ and Downtown is his favoured abode. The people who live in Downtown are the ones who are squeezed by curfews and raids. They taste death each day and are left to their fate-lonely, poor and oppressed. These are the opinions of the local people,who feel unimportant and oppressed.
Figure 3: Photograph of Barbed wires on the streets of Srinagar……..……Source: GK
A city of mosques, Khanqahs, Astaans and temples is being completely ignored by its own stakeholders. The heritage houses are being replaced by ugly structures. It is without drainage, without parking space, without public conveniences. It seems a daemon is on prowl here – as breathing space shrinks, slums multiply and dogs make a merry. The city calls for attention.
Europe has preserved its history of architecture through buildings of yesterday – while they go on preserving their heritage, Kashmir’s richer heritage is tumbling down in a rubble form in ‘Babademb’. Darial houses of Nowhatta are bearing the difficult odour and filth in the adjoining areas. The beauty of the Heritage houses and their unique architecture is mesmerizing. But they are at the verge of extinction like other beautiful houses of Nowhatta.
Though whole Kashmiri society has got affected psychologically by the turmoil, a greater percent is of those people who are affected directly by the turmoil (victims themselves) or the close relatives of the victims (family members). It is presumed that one of the reasons behind the trauma are the various forms of environmental slow violence. Therefore, the connection between the people and the environment is not as strong as was for the previous generations. The tangible elements are breathing their last and the intangible elements are completely lost. There is nothing in the city that can match it to the standard of shehr i khaas(Special City).While interviewing the locals the author found that the people are barely interested or proud of the rich heritage and value of the old city. The third generation has almost no knowledge about the various spots that hold high cultural importance. They almost have no association and are keen to move out. However, the elderly people had tales to narrate. Their love and connection with the city is deep as was evident by their response. The youth complained that they have seen the city in a dilapidated condition all their life. And they have seen nobody taking pains in restoring it.Therefore it has led to a kind of lethargy to maintain their own city. The investigator interviewed different people on phone and in person. A total of Thirty-Five (35) people comprised the sample. For collecting primary data, interview schedule prepared for the purpose was discussed with Shazia Yousuf (Senior journalist Kashmir life) and Zahid Rafiqui (Senior journalist Tehelka) before the actual fieldwork was taken up.
Many aspects of social exclusion will require attention to structural changes in society and broader policy initiatives. Psychiatrists have a role to play in highlighting the associations between these policy and institutional factors and mental health problems. Reducing the social exclusion of people with mental health problems and those with intellectual disabilities should be an explicit policy directive. The psychiatric profession can act as a constant advocate for the promotion of social inclusion in all policies that affect people with mental health problems or intellectual disabilities. Socially inclusive practice and mental health services A socially inclusive approach includes recovery-oriented practice, an emphasis on social outcomes and participation, and attention to the rights of people with mental ill health, as well as to citizenship, equality and justice, and stigma and discrimination. It is important for the recovery of the people suffering from post-traumatic disorder syndrome. Central to recovery is the development of a sense of personal control (agency), and sustaining motivation and supporting the expectations of an individually fulfilled life (hope). It thus involves self-management and self-determination, rather than professionally dominated strategies. There is a need of reconnect of people with their environment. Where the sense of belonging is nurtured. So that the people understand the importance of their environment and contribute to it.The various steps that can be taken towards the recovery from the damage with the ultimate objective to retain ‘local control’, forging a ‘local identity’ and ‘sense of place’ and thus avoid the feeling of alienation, misrepresentation and lack of ownership that surrounds most current approaches to city regeneration and branding and prevents them from being distinct, credible and sustainable in the long term are as under:
- Culture-led city marketing and cultural branding to facilitate visitation.
- Creating multiple hubs of cultural and business activity rooted in strongly defined communities
- Promoting identity
- Reusing underutilized public and private structures
- Enhancing Street Character
- Mega-events as symbolic devices to boost local pride
- Totalizing and coherent representation/meaning of the city
- Providing the right balance of investment in temporary and permanent activity
- Facilitate Investment in events can lead to sustainable practices if the process by giving them vital spots as venues in the precinct.
- Recommendations that can regenerate local economy and its sustainability in the long term
- Develop techniques to evaluate cultural impacts and legacies as an alternative to the more established and clearly predominant techniques to assess immediate economic impacts
- Ensure that all levels of the community are involved in local consultations, thereby avoiding the predominance of a top down approach to decision-making by giving policy and physical level interventions.
- Ensure that cultural investment as a way to facilitate the creation and sustainable production of local culture for local consumption and cultural export by giving a policy level intervention.
- Facilitate Social Cohesion.
- Ensure that cultural investment is assessed and measured for its cultural impact as well as for its economic and regenerative impacts. The latter requires increased support to the development of longitudinal studies that monitor the progression of impacts and legacies in the long term by giving a policy level or a physical intervention.
- Development of schemes to support the creative industries (especially associated with the long lost practices)
- Supporting cultural activity in Qalai andar neighbourhoods as well as prestigious arts venues by using the voids
- Understanding Urban Cultural Policies And assessing the need of urban cultural policy of Srinagar or critiquing other existing policies.
- Culture as an instrument for economic regeneration supported through a policy level intervention
First and above all, I praise God, the almighty for providing me this opportunity and granting me the capability to proceed successfully. Thanks to all my close friends and family for their moral and spiritual support in all aspects of my life. I would also like to thank the respondents who were involved in the validation survey for this research, without their passionate participation and inputs, the validation survey could not have been successfully conducted.
Author Bio: Ar. Qurnain Rashid, has done M Arch in urban regeneration from Jamia Milia Islamia,Currently pursuing PGCGI from IGNOU.Winner of Award for excellence in the category of optimum space utilisation. With an experience of over five years in both teaching and industry.The author is Senior architect/Urban Regeneration Practitioner at DesArt Studios and Member Of NGO Sehreeti,a platform of ‘collective practices’ which engage with the urban environment.
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