The ‘Mermaid in the Dal’ went back with ‘interviews of victims of human rights abuse in Kashmir’

An American filmmaker and an underwater model were recently in Kashmir for a shoot in the Dal. Pictures of Iara Mandy went viral on social media. In in pictures, she was dressed up as a mermaid while lying besides the lilies in the famed lake.

However, Jamie DeWolf, the filmmaker, in a post revealed that they secretly recorded ‘dozens of interviews with torture victims of the Indian state in the valley.

DeWolf also said in the post that those interviews will be out in two months time.

While describing Kashmir as the ‘most militarized zone in the world’, DeWolf said in his viral post, “It’s the most militarized zone in the world, one soldier for ever 7 citizens. Guns everywhere. Not exactly a top tourist location. My partner Iara Mandyn and I were flying in with a cover story of doing a mermaid shoot. We scattered various film gear across our suitcases and checked in the mermaid tail. But what we were REALLY doing was secretly filming dozens of interviews with torture victims of the Indian state, protesters who’d been beaten, blinded, amputees missing fingers and legs, horror stories end upon end.”

He added, “There were grenade attacks while we there, a citywide strike, protesters ran over and killed. I won’t lie that it was a shaky experience. Watching people get snatched off the street in front of our hotel while I had explosive footage hiding in my room was intense. The interviews will be coming out for the world to see in the next two months to be submitted with one of the first comprehensive reports on human rights abuses in Kashmir. And on the last day, we did the mermaid shoot!”

Mandy, while sharing her experience pointed out that the ‘story behind these photos is way crazier than the image could ever convey.’

“The region is insanely gorgeous but there’s a lot of tension in Kashmir right now, so we were quite wary the entire time we were there. We almost scrapped the idea but then by luck found an awesome guide, and a boatman who was willing to take us out. Almost all of the women there cover up from ankle to neck even in the blazing heat of summer, and don’t swim. We didn’t wan’t to cause a stir, so we rowed out to a remote part of the lake to be able to capture these. So many thanks to everyone who made these happen,” she said in her post.

The US based filmmaker is the great-grandson of  late American author L. Lon Hubbard who founded a new religious movement called the Church of Scientology in 1954. The filmmaker-writer in his Facebook post said he found Kashmir “not exactly a top tourist location” where they “were flying in with a cover story of doing a mermaid shoot”.

Recently, in a first of it’s kind report the United Nations, released on June 14, alleged “widespread” human rights violations in Kashmir and claimed “excessive use of force by Indian security forces” led to “numerous civilian casualties”.

The 49-page report report states that there is an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir, who for seven decades have suffered a conflict that has claimed or ruined numerous lives.

The report which focuses on human rights situation in Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir – details human rights violations and abuses on both sides of the Line of Control, and highlights a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by forces.

“The political dimensions of the dispute between India and Pakistan have long been centre-stage, but this is not a conflict frozen in time. It is a conflict that has robbed millions of their basic human rights, and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

India has lodged a strong protest with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) over the report.

Even the Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat called the reported ‘motivated’.

“I don’t think we should get too concerned with these reports. Some of these reports [by human rights organisation] are motivated,” General Rawat had told reporters.

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