Lies neatly filed away in Kashmir Files

If the figure of 600-650 Kashmiri Pandits being killed is true, what of the more than 25,000 Muslims killed as well?

People raise slogans inside a theatre after watching ‘TKF’
People raise slogans inside a theatre after watching ‘TKF’

Ashok Kumar Pandey

A dialogue in the film The Kashmir Files states that showing false news is not as much of a crime as hiding true news is. That sets the tone of the things.

There is some effort to show true news in this film but under the guise of trying to show the truth, there is also an attempt to hide a lot of the true news.

The movie opens with a scene of children playing cricket in a vitiated atmosphere. Anupam Kher, who plays a Kashmiri Pandit, is preparing to celebrate Shivratri. The film is made to focus only on the conflict between Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims. Moreover, it depicts only Pandits being killed and driven away from Kashmir. It covers up and hides a big fact --that not only Kashmiri Pandits but also Kashmiri Muslims were killed in that environment.

It is worth pondering that through Mughal, Afghan, Sikh, Dogra and British rules, the population of Muslims in Kashmir was always above 90% . In 1947 a lot of Muslims from North India migrated to Pakistan, a lot of Hindus came to India from Pakistan. Thousands of Hindus and Muslims were killed in the process. Why did nothing happen to Kashmiri Pandits during those days? What was it that suddenly went wrong in the 1990s?

Everyone remembers the names of Kashmiri Pandits killed in the conflict. No one bothers to remember the names of the Kashmiri Muslims killed during the time.

Terrorists in Kashmir wanted to instigate Kashmiri citizens and convince them that India was against their interests while Pakistan supported them. Doordarshan and All India Radio used to routinely destroy this propaganda and bring the views of the Government to the people. That is why the terrorists considered them as enemies and the people working in these institutions, whether Hindu or Muslim, were killed without discrimination.

Not only Hindus, many Muslims too were standing in favour of India. But this film pretends that only Hindus were killed, and that all Muslims together killed Hindus. Anupam Kher says at one place in this film that Hindus in Kashmir were a minority of 2%. On this one question alone, my query often is--had 95-96% stood up against 2% Hindus, would any Hindu have survived?

In fact, terrorism in Kashmir got the biggest boost when Rubaiya Sayeed was kidnapped. Rubaiya Sayeed, a doctor, was the daughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who was made Union Home Minister by V.P. Singh in a government supported by BJP and the Communist parties. When Rubaiya was kidnapped, Farooq Abdullah was dead opposed to releasing any terrorist to secure her freedom. He warned that if the terrorists are released, Kashmir would have to pay a heavy price. His warning was ignored and the terrorists were released. The rest, as they say, is history. The movie completely white washes the role of Jagmohan, the then Governor of J&K. The film tries to reduce his culpability in the events and turns his role on the head by wrongly interpreting his action of driving Kashmiri Pandits away from their homes as help in getting out instead of portraying truly his abject failure in offering them security.

Prof Neerja Mattoo, speaking at the Goa Arts and Literature Festival in 2012, had said that the government at that time instead of creating a sense of security among Kashmiri Pandits, chose the easy way out of letting them leave Kashmir. It not only allowed them to leave their homes but also facilitated their exodus, virtually offering them bribes to quit Kashmir.

Now my question to the BJP which was supporting VP Singh’s government at the time is: when Kashmiri Pandits were leaving in such large numbers, why was not enough army sent there to stop the exodus? Why was their support not withdrawn from the government? You will be surprised to know that the army was sent in only after Congress MPs led by Rajiv Gandhi gheraoed the Parliament.

It should also be understood that there was fear among Kashmiri Muslims too. But despite this fear many Kashmiri Muslims tried to come to the rescue of Pandits.

On the question of facilities, the compensation given to Kashmiri Pandits per month, as per the website of MHA, is the highest in India for the victims of any displacement. This compensation has also been increased from time to time. All the rehabilitation and compensation was offered when there were governments of Congress or other opposition parties.

The BJP has been in power for eight years at the Centre and was earlier part of the Mufti government in Kashmir. It should clarify what it did for Kashmiri Pandits during this time.

Unlike the completely Hindu versus Muslim narrative in this film, the case was that the supporters of Pakistan who were terrorists wanted to kill the supporters of Hindustan whoever they were. In the process they also killed Kashmiri Pandits. If the figure of 600-650 Kashmiri Pandits being killed is true, what of the more than 25,000 Muslims killed as well? If around 1.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits went out, then around 50,000 Kashmiri Muslims also had to migrate from the state.

Actually, if you persist in seeing the whole story of Kashmir from the Hindu verses Muslim perspective alone, you miss the wood for the trees. But that precisely is the purpose if the film.

(Edited excerpt from a video clip ‘The Kashmir Files: Kitna Sach Kitna Jhooth’ on Youtube by eminent historian Ashok Pandey)

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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