Bachura, a small village in Kashmir’s Budgam district, wakes up every day to the sound of shots fired by personnel from the Indian armed forces and military groups who practise at a firing range nearby. Surrounded by the karewas—mineral-rich terraces—and dotted with almond trees, the range is six kilometres from the Srinagar airport.
The noise from the gunfire has acquired a different meaning for the young people of the village, many of whom, in recent years, have taken to collecting and selling used bullets. The small income it generates—around Rs 14,000 a month—helps them with daily and family expenses. The army sometimes practises with different ammunition, such as grenade launchers, for which it uses old buses and jeeps as targets. The young people who collect and sell parts of the vehicles, including tyres and iron rods, refer to these occasions as “bada din”—the big day.
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Zubair Sofi is a Srinagar-based journalist. His work has appeared in several Kashmiri publications.