Film ‘Kashmir Files’: Divisive Agenda by Ram Puniyani

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Watching this movie in the theaters is a harrowing experience. It incites the negative, hateful and emotive response from majority of viewers. Someone at the end of the screening starts making the prevalent anti Muslim slogans and hysteria takes over the theatres. It has been recommended by no less than Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravishankar, The RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, the Prime Minster Narendra Modi and all and sundry. The BJP ruled states have made it tax free. Haryana CM wanted it to be shown in the vast auditoriums free of cost, to which its Director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri objected as that would have cut into his swallowing pockets.

It is a gripping film but lacks any sophistication. It shows the raw violence in a horrific way, some supposedly to be based on true stories (like cutting the woman with electric saw). There are counterclaims which deny such harrowing violence having taken place. Of course despicable violence did take place. There are stories of Muslim neighbors saving Pandits from atrocities, helping them in varius ways also. All that amicable phenomenon of Kashmiri life is deliberately kept out. The film highlights killings of Kashmiri Pandits in a one sided manner.

The director of the film was asked in one interview why he has not shown the killings of Muslims, who also faced the wrath of the terrorists. His response was totally off the mark as he said the in Second World War Germans and Jews both were killed. Only Jews are remembered. He says we need to remember the killings of Pandits in the same manner like Jews in Germany! Totally illogical comparison. Germans did not die in concentration camps and Jews who are remembered are the ones who were victims of Hitler’s internal fascist policy, and not directly in the war. It is a off the mark comparison just to defend the indefensible, omission of the killings of Muslims by terrorists in Kashmir.

Another BJP leader, one from J&K, asserted that only Muslims killed the Pandits. No Pandit took up arms. This is an attempt to present the whole Muslims community in the color of terrorists. It was terrorists, trained in Pakistan, the ones’ who became more aggressive after the rise of Islamism (Zia Ul Haq, Taliban) who indulged in killings and other atrocities of Pandits and pro India Muslims.

The opposition to autonomy clauses and their suppression in due course created dissatisfaction, alienation among Kashmiri youth set in. This alienation went through various phases. Initially it was based on the core values of Kashmiriyat. From decade of 1980, it became anti India and later assumed anti Hindu form. The first political murder was that of NC’s Mohammad Yusuf Halwai, even before that of Tikalal Tiplu, the J&K BJP leader. We should know that it was not communal violence, where two communities were pitted against each other. It was a agenda based terrorist violence.

In case of Kashmir, the sections of militants who turned terrorists under the influence of growing clout of the Taliban, Al Qaeda etc. This dastardly phenomenon emerged from few madrassas of Pakistan. These madrassas were particularly set up with American aid (8000 million dollars). They implemented America designed syllabus based on retrograde version of Islam. America also gave 7000 tons of armaments which were used in anti Russia Afghan war. Kashmiri Muslims need to be distinguished from the breed of gun-bomb wielding terrorists, whose roots in turn lay in process of alienation furthered by the aggressive version of Islam, which dominated the area.

The deliberate ‘Only Pandits were killed’ is a blatant lie. The film lives to its own dialogue that showing wrong is as dangerous as hiding the truth. It totally hides the murders and exodus of Muslims. The film director in various interviews says that only Pandits had to leave the valley. The truth is that over 50000 Muslims also had to leave.

Then he claims that there are no Pandits in the valley. Again a full throated lie! He deliberately hides the fact that there are close to 800 Pandit families living in the valley. There organization is Kashmir Pandit Suraksha Samiti (KPSS). Its leader Sanjay Tikkoo is now apprehensive that this film may have adverse impact on Pandits living in valley. About the film “he fears, (that it) aims to polarize communities, spread hate, and may even fuel violence that people of Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere do not want repeated ever again.” 

He also elaborates the type of bonding between Kashmiri Muslims and the Pandits, “What we call the mass migration began March 15, 1990, onward. Terrorist organisions were making daily hit lists and pasting them inside the mosques. On these lists were Pandits, NC workers, Muslims. As there were cordial relations between individual Pandits and Muslims, the latter after the evening namaaz would inform his [Pandit] neighbor if he spotted the name. He wanted to save his [KP friend/ neighbor] and their families.”

These are the things unsuitable for the divisive agenda of the director and those recommending and promoting the film. Film also uses the stereotype that Kashmir was inhabited by Pandits/Hindus alone who were converted to Islam by ‘Sufi’s sword’ (Anupam Kher’s dialogue in the film). This is far from the truth of spread of Islam in the valley and other parts of India. Just a minimal knowledge about Sufi tradition will tell us that Sufi saints were for spiritualism and love. That’s how most of the Sufi shrines till date are visited by Hindus and Muslims both. Conversion to Islam has been more due to caste atrocities rather than the sword of the kings, as Swami Vivekananda Points out ““Religious conversions have not taken place because of atrocities of Christians and Muslims, but because of atrocities of upper caste.” (His letters, one to Pundit Shankarlal of Khetri (20th September 1892 and another to Haridas Vithaldas Desai in November 1894 (Volume 5/Epistles-First Series/II, Volume 8/Epistles-Fourth series Nov 1894, respectively).

At the level of Kashmir, Ratanlal Hanglu (‘The State in Medieval Kashmir’, Manoharlal Publication Delhi 2000) affirms what Swami Vivekananda says. Hangloo points out that conversions to Islam in Kashmir was a silent rebellion against Brahminical atrocities.

The film will have negative impact on the carefully nurtured Kashmiriyat in Kashmir and Fraternity which emerged during freedom movement all over India.

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Disclaimer: Film ‘Kashmir Files’: Divisive Agenda by Ram Puniyani - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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