Three decades of exile: Will there be redemption for Hindus of Kashmir?


The film, The Kashmir Files, is more than a documentary about the 1990 ethnic cleansing of the Hindus of Kashmir: It is a last will and testament of a people who have been attacked and exiled seven times in history. This latest may be the last straw, and they may become extinct as a people and culture unless they can return to their homeland, and bring up their children as Kashmiris.

I was once startled to find a statue of the ancient emperor Ashurbanipal near San Francisco City Hall, donated ‘by the exiled people of Assyria’. I had assumed the Assyrians had been exterminated, but there are a few of them still living in exile in America. Kashmiri Hindus are on the verge of this.

Exile corrodes. Exile destroys. I experienced it personally, even though I lived my voluntary exile comfortably in the US. For the Kashmiri Hindus who have lived in squalid refugee camps in Jammu or Delhi for thirty years, bereft of everything, vastuhara and vaastuhara, it has meant literally an extinguishing of their culture and their history of great intellectual accomplishment. The Martand Sun Temple? Gone. Sharda Peeth? Gone. Rajatarangini of Kalhana? Gone.

While watching the film, I was reminded of the phrase morituri te salutant, “We, who are about to die, salute you”, the cry of the gladiator, even though these are unarmed victims of genocide. I thought of the Yazidis of Sinjar, similarly hunted almost to extinction. Will somebody ever make “The Marichjhapi Files” or the “Malabar 1921 Files”, as Utpal Kumar asks poignantly  on Firstpost.

There are horrifying epiphanies here: A woman sliced in two on a mechanical saw while alive (it happened to schoolteacher Girija Tikkoo after abduction and gang-rape), 25 people lined up and each shot in the head so they fall, dead, into a pit behind them (Nadimarg massacre), an old poet and his son nailed to trees and shot in their foreheads where you apply sandalwood paste (Sarvanand Kaul Premi).

The film hits you viscerally, as viewers of “Piravi”, “Battleship Potemkin” or “Schindler’s List” can attest. The Kashmir Files appears to have set off an earthquake in India that threatens to overthrow the Leftist Indic Anglosphere, a cabal that has had a stranglehold on the narrative. This film is a phenomenon, striking at the very roots of the gaslighting Indians have endured for decades.


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After The Kashmir Files, revisiting Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 'sanitised' version on Kashmiri Pandits exodus in Shikara

Vivek Agnihotri on The Kashmir Files: 'I wanted to make a film about people who did not pick up guns'

Vivek Agnihotri on The Kashmir Files success: 'Bollywood wanted me to make typical potboilers that I was never willing to do'

Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri deactivates his Twitter account ahead of The Kashmir Files release; here’s why

Watch: Trailer of Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files, starring Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty


The rules have to be changed, as the poet Asan once said: “Change the rules, lest they change thee thyself!”. Indians have been fed make-believe, bowdlerized narratives. You become a non-person if you do not genuflect to the Truth (as defined by the cabal). Years ago, the brilliant fabulist OV Vijayan related how he, “a card-carrying coffee-house type”, had been blackballed, both for mocking the Nehru dynasty and for leaving the leftist coterie.

The narrative makes sense only to those whom my friend Bapa Rao calls ‘Anglo-Mughalai’ — a deracinated comprador class that dominates the ‘intellectual’ circles in Lutyens and Khan Market. This powerful self-proclaimed ‘elite’ — rather like the ‘wokes’ of the US — bullies others into acquiescence. One of the principal characters in the film, modelled on a JNU professor (alas, of Kerala origin), is an urban Naxal who has brainwashed generations of students.

This ‘problem’, as it were, is seen most vividly in the realm of history, especially in what scholars such as Sitaram Goel, Ram Swarup and Koenraad Elst call “negationism in Indian history”, where atrocities by Abrahamics were systematically whitewashed. This is, even today, the chosen narrative. Note the recent news about IAS coaching academies spewing blatant anti-national nonsense.

Thus the ‘eminent historians’ [sic] led by Romila Thapar, DN Jha, Irfan Habib, et al, managed to completely negate the works of Jadunath Sarkar, Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, and others. Arun Shourie skewered them mercilessly in his masterful book, exposing their sins including outright theft of taxpayers' funds with nothing to show for it. They got away with it.

More recently, non-traditional historians began to follow Oscar Wilde’s dictum: “The only duty we owe to history is to rewrite it”. Earlier, the cabal managed to deprecate the works of Subhash Kak, Michel Danino, NS Rajaram, et al. But today, books by Sanjeev Sanyal, J Sai Deepak, and Vikram Sampath have shaken the establishment. Their taunt that there are no intellectuals on the other side has been nullified: here is proof of existence!

The incumbent historians’ reaction to the storming of their citadel has been furious: first, they ignored the insurgents; then they attacked them; next, they may capitulate, as public sentiment is against them. The attacks have been sophomoric: character assassination, social media bots, vandalism of Wikipedia pages. But there are larger forces, and funds, behind them. Fortunately, Sanjeev, Sai, and Vikram don’t seem likely to go gently into that good night.

There is open talk, moreover, of balkanisation and that new thing: ‘Sub-national diplomacy’. This is the next snake oil being peddled to India as a panacea for all its ills.

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Nice try, but alas, Shekhar Gupta gave the game away: It is only a tactic to defeat Modi. Aha! ‘Regional leaders’! In case you wondered why AAP and TMC won, here’s the answer.

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Hindus need to understand that they are actually not coming for Modi. They are coming for you. As they came for the Hindus of Kashmir, who were fed two anodyne lines: ‘Kashmiriyat’ and ‘Secularism’. There is a remarkable photograph showing a Kashmiri terrorist — who is at last on trial for the wanton shootings of four unarmed Air Force officers over 30 years ago — with an Indian Prime Minister. There is a scene in the film where he meets Jammu and Kashmir's chief minister.

There have also been several comments by officials that imply masterful inactivity by the Government of India of the time, despite many warnings about impending disaster.

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So who is to blame? The Hindu Pandits of Kashmir who believed in a mythical ‘Kashmiriyat’, considered themselves superior to plains Hindus, and paid the price by being betrayed by their friends and neighbours? The Congress, which even now cannot abandon its negationism of Hindu genocide, as seen in the hastily deleted tweet above? The Government of India, which condoned the violations of the rights of citizens? The two dynasties in Jammu and Kashmir? The terrorists?

The answer is All of the above. And you and I, dear reader, because we too are guilty of complicity by silence when it happened. Why weren’t we out in the streets, demonstrating, because this was a crime against humanity?

Will there ever be a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that has the teeth to punish the guilty, as the War Crimes Tribunal in Rwanda did? Will the Kashmiri Pandits ever be able to go home again? Who knows?

The writer has been a conservative columnist for over 25 years. His academic interest is innovation. Views expressed are personal.

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Three decades of exile: Will there be redemption for Hindus of Kashmir?
Three decades of exile: Will there be redemption for Hindus of Kashmir?
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