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PHOTOS: Tales from the forgotten villages of Ladakh

January 13, 2014 08:32 IST

PHOTOS: Tales from the forgotten villages of Ladakh

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Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

Burdened with a troubled history and a present steeped in conflict, five small villages on the India-Pakistan border in Ladakh, have many untold stories, finds Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

On the night of December 13, 1971, Major Chewang Rinchin of the Ladakh Scouts and his troops called for a cease-fire after reaching Baltistan’s Tyakshi village, (in Pakistan then).

The Indian troopers acquired just five villages and 310 square miles of Pakistan, even before the Indo-Pakistan war was called off.

The people of the villages went to sleep in Pakistan and woke up in India the following morning.

These sensitive border villages (near NubraValley in Ladakh) were inaccessible to visitors before 2010, when some parts were opened up by the Indian government.

I went to the region the following year to teach higher secondary school kids. When I met them, I realised it wasn’t only education that they needed. They seemed to embody the burden of a prolonged denial of any kind of fulfillment.

The children, who can only look forward to joining the army, were caught between a conflicted past and a longing for a better future.

The faces of the old, narrated many untold stories of the past. They spoke about their days in Pakistan, about the trees they used to play under, and the rocks they sat on talking for hours.

Of brothers and sisters they couldn't see anymore since they were on the other side of the Line of Control.

They yearned to talk, to tell tales of the rich history they have been carrying on for so long.

Gradually, the imagination of the Baltis has been forced to be bereft of a past. A past, which is an essential part of their being.

Delhi-based Narayan Tushar Kaudinya loves to tell stories of children, rural settlements and conflict-ridden communities through his photographs.

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Image: When winter sets in, all that the Baltis do is chase the sun in the afternoon. One of those moments where Hana bi, right, speaks about her twin sister. She went out the night the Indian forces came to their village. It has been over forty years since she heard from her.
Photographs: Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

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Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

The women outnumber men. Khairunisa and Tahira are twenty-two years apart, but married to the same man.

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Photographs: Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

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PHOTOS: Tales from the forgotten villages of Ladakh

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A narrow village lane.

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Photographs: Narayan Tushar Kaudinya
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PHOTOS: Tales from the forgotten villages of Ladakh

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An Indian army convoy stuck in a snowstorm on its way to Siachin base camp, the highest battlefield in the world.

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PHOTOS: Tales from the forgotten villages of Ladakh

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Rahim Khan is the gatekeeper of the only school run by the Indian Army on the banks of the angry ShyokRiver. It is the sole  source of water the Baltis have.

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Photographs: Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

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The valley of Shyok opens up to the ranges of Pakistan.


Photographs: Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

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