On May 29th, 2009, Shakeel Ahmad Ahanger, a Kashmiri man living in the town of Shopian, returned home from work to find his wife and sister missing. After notifying the police and searching through the night, he discovered their battered bodies in a nearby river. Although the initial post-mortem stipulated that they had been gang-raped and murdered, the Indian Government’s Central Bureau of Investigation later changed the ruling to death by accidental drowning. The incident immediately sparked massive strikes and protests against the Indian occupation, and continues to be a rallying cry for human rights and Kashmiri independence activism.
Filmed in 2010, “In Shopian” presents a firshand account of Shakeel’s story amidst the current state of social unrest in the capital of Srinagar and outlying rural areas. It features rare on-site interviews with separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik, and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, as well as street battles between local youths and security forces. Shakeel’s story is a contextualized example of the plight of ordinary Kashmiris, and an aesthetic portrait of present-day Kashmir as a torn paradise.