After watching spectacular Pavankhind, a Marathi film, humanly – Jhund and struggle of a sex worker- Gangubai, all real-life stories from different eras, not at all in a mood to watch “The Kashmir Files” because…
An overhyped movie, The Kashmir Files, directed by Vivek Agnihotri, claims that the film is a depiction of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits during the Kashmir Insurgency. This movie is melodramatic and overloaded with Propaganda. But the heart-wrenching documentaries of Ashok Pandit “Sharnarthi Apne Desh Mein“, a film detailing the plight of Kashmiri Pandit refugees during 1989-1990 and 2010’s “A Village of Windows” detailing the hardships of the Kashmiri village of Dardpura. These short films were more realistic because the actual victim’s inputs were there. They shake your souls because the victims express their pain, regret and sense of rejection.
The Kashmir Files movie is made with an agenda and certainly missed its credibility because the writer and director have failed to ask the present government, what has stopped them from rehabilitating Pandits in the Valley? No political party, including BJP, is interested in doing anything for them because they (Kashmiri Pandit) are not a sizable vote bank, with a population of less than a million. What else do you expect from a political party? Meanwhile, how many Kashmiri Pandits really want to return? No one is really sure, all the so-called custodians of Pandits are in major cities across the globe.
The biggest point to my mind is that if this issue is solved, how will BJP and Kashmiri political parties use this emotive issue to create frenzy and support for divisive politics? They are all interested in keeping this issue alive and simmering for their own petty interests. Ironically, the separatists in Kashmir and Political parties are converging in their interest to keep this issue simmering. Why are these filmmakers shying away from making the present government accountable? There are hundreds of such movies made in the past but what these moviemakers lack is the will to ask questions.
These days, most of the movies are political agenda-driven, hardly anyone watches them, A biopic film about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, The Accidental Prime Minister, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (managed some viewers), Uri – Surgical Strike (was super hit), Buddha in Traffic Jam, seriously no one knows there is a movie like this, remember how much ruckus cry was created by Vivek Agnihotri? In the name of urban Naxals and left ideology? Then The Tashkent Files, Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, went into the dustbin. Thalaivi– super-duper flop. Let’s see what is written in the fate of “The Kashmir Files“. One thing I love about this movie is Pallavi Joshi, rest all waste. Same faces, same dialogues, same melodrama, far away from real issues and their people.
No film spoke about the removal of the Ghulam Shah government in 1986, rigging of elections in 1987. Launch of Terrorist training camps in PoK from 1985–1990. Kashmiri Pandits were strongly pro-India, while till the 1990s, Kashmiri Muslim’s belief was divided. The Kashmiri Pandit population in the valley was around 4% till the late 1980s. Kashmiri pandits held considerable power in the valley till 1947 when popular Muslim leaders took over. Yet they still remained politically and socially influential owing to their role in education and the economy. These facts are minimalist and under-reported when it comes to drawing a timeline of events pertaining to the insurgency in Kashmir.
Ghulam Mohammad Shah becomes the CM of the state and chooses to construct the Shah mosques, named after himself inside the premises of an ancient Hindu temple in Jammu which saw huge demonstrations by the people of Jammu. He raised the slogan of “Islam khatrey mein hey” (Islam is in danger), inciting the Muslims of the valley who took to the streets targeting the Pandits, especially in areas of South Kashmir including Anantnag and Sopore. Now BJP uses the same term to create unrest among Muslims stating “Hindu Khatreme hai”.
The properties of Kashmiri Pandits were damaged and some of them left the valley fearing for their safety. This was the first of the incidents which moved the workings and the two years that followed a lot of turmoil.
In September 1989, the first Pandit was killed in front of several witnesses. He was Pandit Tika Lal Taploo, an advocate and a famous leader of BJP. Nobody was convicted as the civil society had ceased to remain civilized. Those days Kashmiri Pandits were selectively targeted, sometimes by their associates by brutally mutilating their bodies in order to send a message across. It wasn’t the number of people killed but the manner of their killing that instilled fear in the population. Women were raped and maimed.
In January 1990, the communal tensions were at their peak and the valley witnessed huge demonstrations which echoed both separatism and religious subjugation in the form of the following slogans. ‘Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san’ (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men), ‘Raliv, galiv ya tchaliv’ (convert, die or flee).
Newspapers and Mosques published the names of the Pandits who were given ultimatums to flee the valley or be killed. In the next month, almost 95% of the Pandit population had left the valley. Those who chose to live there were given one room makeshift houses without sanitation facilities and no facility to survive the severe heat of Jammu that they were not habituated to. There have been many cases of depression among the youth as they lost their careers and prospects of living a dignified life. Families broke up as the sons and daughters had to go to different places in the country to earn a living with nothing but a single room shanty to come back to in the form of a native ‘home’.
Many so-called Pandits of cosmopolitan cities became voices of Pandits for their own political advantage. They became rich and famous but the fate of Pandits in the valley has not changed even today.