Mubeen Ahmad was nine years old when his mother sold him into service to a mechanic for the petty sum of few thousand Indian rupees. His mother had found it hard to support the family after his father, a labourer, was killed during one of the anti-India protests in Jammu and Kashmir in 2008.
Much has changed since Rahti Begum, a fisherwoman in Kashmir, now in her late 60s, first began wandering the streets with a bucketful of fish on her head. She was 17 when her father roped her into the business that became the source of her livelihood for the remainder of her life.
In central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, 40-year-old Javaid Ahmad Hurra remembers vividly how his small hamlet used to be lush and green when he was a child. It is now subtly turning into a concrete jungle, with cement structures dominating the scenery.