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Published on July 3rd, 2011 | by ksc

Oslo Freedom Forum 2011 – Healing Kashmir

Posted on: Friday, September 09, 2011

Ms. Hinna Abdullah with Dr Arif Khan of Kashmir LifeLine & Health Centre
Healing Kashmir’s major project, Kashmir Lifeline & Health Centre is growing fast. When there have been full strikes in Kashmir our team have still been able to take the helpline calls as they were able to take them from the portable system that we have in place. Our outreach program, in which members of our helpline team visit schools and clinics around the Kashmir Valley, was recognized with a feature article in the Kashmir Times( Call volume in the first full month that the toll-free mental trauma helpline was higher than anyone had expected. Dr. Arif Khan discussed the Lifeline the very popular 92.7BIG FM radio station, which led to an average of 30 calls a day over the following weekend. Our central clinic is treating patients, many of whom have been treatment resistant. We are being sent the difficult cases and our team are helping them to change their lives.
Finally, the team were delighted to have a visit from Hinna Abdullah, sister of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. She was very enthusiastic about the project and sent a volley of tweets about what we are doing.

The Story of Healing Kashmir


You could say that the most lasting damage of war is to the mind.  In the case of the disputed Kashmir Valley, in North India, twenty years of fighting has caused inordinate long-term mental damage to a high percentage of the population.

In 1989 a separatist insurgency erupted in The Valley, demanding independence from India. The Indian military response was draconian, and the fighting soon became entrenched as Pakistan backed, trained and armed many of the insurgent groups that were fighting in The Valley. This conflict has moved far beyond its own geographical borders, and many jihadi groups were formed in order fight in the name of ‘freedom for Kashmir’. Some of those groups now have an international agenda, as was witnessed during the attacks on hotels and public places in Mumbai in November 2008.

Across twenty years of watching this conflict, and beyond the politics and khaki uniforms that are so omnipresent in Kashmir, it has become increasingly apparent that there has been the rapid and pandemic deterioration of mental health in the state. When the conflict began in 1989 there was one psychiatric hospital in The Valley. The doctors who were practicing at The Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital said then that they would have perhaps one patient a day. By 1994, five years into the conflict, the doctors were seeing up to 300 patients a day, around 80,000 patients a year.

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