Divisive Politics: Alarming Scenario – Film Kashmir Files’ Negative Role

Kashmir FIles

The incidents from Ram Navami to Hanuman Jayanti have more than shaken the nation. The ‘bulldozer of Hate’ demolished not only several households but also our Constitutional values. Backing up on this now loud speakers in Mosque is being made an issue by divisive politics. While most Muslim groups are for abiding by the instructions of Courts, the BJP-MNS (Raj Thackeray) are bent upon walking the communal path. They have threatened recitation of Hanuman Chalisa in public places and particularly in front of mosques. On the lines of Maha Aarti’s which were invented in the wake of post demolition violence in Mumbai (1992-93), Hanuman Chalisa is being made the vehicle of the divisive politics.

As the Maharashtra Government tried to solve the issue by all party meeting, BJP made its intentions clear by boycotting the same. Raj Thackeray is also looking for the opportunity to make his space in the state politics by intensifying the issue, while two BJP leaders have been arrested on this issue on the ‘law-and-order’ ground on Hanuman Chalisa issue.

One can clearly see the worsening levels of Hate in last few weeks (April 2022). The continuously rising Hate levels have been given a big boost by film Kashmir Files, which is being sponsored by the state by making it tax free on one side and by encouraging the viewing of the film by BJP patrons, who bought the tickets an masse and distributed them among the people.

For those who have been en-cashing on the Hate and violence to increase their political power, to deepen the political agenda of authoritarian theocratic state in India, this film came as a big boon. The film was criticized by those who are being labeled as liberals; this word has been twisted to create a humiliating derivative.

As per upholders of the film and the ideology which it promotes; secularism in India faces a grave challenge from Islamic fundamentalism of which the conflict in Kashmir is the most egregious example.

Right from the likes of Sri Sri Ravishanker, to RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minster Modi highly commended the film as showing the real truth. Maker of the film Vivek Agnihotri himself says that he is not just a film maker, he has an agenda and no wonder the film pushed the society in negative direction as witnessed in the incidents of recent weeks.

The left liberal strands have been worried due to the negative impact of the film and its inadequacies, partial truth and one sided projections of the incidents and their interpretation. Kashmir did see separatism right from the decades of 1950s, but this had no base in Islamic fundamentalism or Muslim communalism to begin with. It was primarily due to suppression of the autonomy which was guaranteed to the people of Kashmir through article 370 and 35A. This separatism talked of Kashmiryat as its ideology in the beginning.

It was Kashmir where Vedanta, Buddhism and Sufi traditions integrated to create the unique culture: Kashmiriyat. To think that all conversions to Islam were through sword is a biased and motivated understanding of Islam in Kashmir and also in India as a whole. Islam spread in Kashmir not due to ‘Sufi Sword’ (Dialogue used in the film) but to escape the caste atrocities perpetuated by upper caste. Swami Vivekananda points out “Religious conversions have not taken place because of atrocities of Christians and Muslims, but because of atrocities of upper caste.” Ratanlal Hanglu (‘The State in Medieval Kashmir’, Manoharlal Publication Delhi 2000) affirms what Swami Vivekananda says. Hangloo points out those conversions to Islam in Kashmir were a silent rebellion against Brahminical atrocities.

Kashmiryat is not a fantasy. We know Nund Rishi (Nooruddin Noorani) and Lal Dedh or festivals like Kheer Bhavani celebrated jointly by people of Kashmir. We also know Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous statement that he wants to solve the Kashmir issue through Insaniyat (Humanism), Jamhooriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri Syncretism).

Nature of terrorism, militancy has changed in the decade of 1980s. This has more to do with the training of youth in Pakistan Madrassas towards formation of Al Qaeda, Taliban. This was the project of America implemented through its vassal Pakistan. It is these elements which infiltrated in large numbers in Kashmir and wrought havoc; on Pro-India elements like the leaders of National conference (Mohammad Yusus Halwai) and later Kashmiri Pundits. The film paints the Kashmiri Muslims in the same brush with which they paint the terrorists trained in Pakistan. These Pakistan trained elements had the mindset where distorted version of Islam taught them to label all those differing with them as Kafir and killing them in the name of Jihad.

Film tries to blame Kashmiri Muslims; National Conference and Indian National Congress for the plight of Pundits. That’s where one has to remind ourselves about Jagmohan (Who later became Minster in BJP Government) providing the facilities for Pundits to leave the valley. It was VP Singh Government supported by BJP when this disastrous decision was taken. The right thing should have been to deal with terrorists and to provide protection to the Pundits.

The film totally ignores that even today 800 Pundit families are living in Kashmir today. Film totally blacks out that over 50000 Muslims had to leave the valley due to the acts of terror. 89 Pundits were killed while 1635  people of other faiths were killed.

Islamic fundamentalism is not changing the secular character of our country; it is being used as a pretext. What is eroding the ‘Democratic idea of India’ is the rising Islamophobia, built around myths of medieval history (Muslim kings destroyed temples, Islam spread by Muslim kings through sword) and other myths related to their population, the myths which by now have generated immense Hate and are inching to boycott them in trade. Our religious processions/festivals are being turned into occasions to provoke minorities and then rolling the bulldozers on their houses, as painfully witnessed in recent times. Public recitations of Hanuman Chalisa are a mere next stage in the march of Hate politics!

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Dr Ram Puniyani

Dr Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. Email: [email protected]

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