Reading the Divisive Agenda of ‘Kashmir Files’

Kashmir FIles

Abhinav Kumar (Misreading the Kashmir Files, IE, 16th April 2022) takes on the liberals with gay abandon. As per him the secularism in India faces a grave challenge from Islamic fundamentalism of which the conflict in Kashmir is the most egregious example. He ardently defends the film Kashmir Files.

Kashmir Files is in the media and social scenario in a very powerful way. Right from the likes of Sri Sri Ravishanker, to RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minster Modi have highly commended the film as showing the real truth. Many others; who are labeled as liberals or left have perceived the films with an agenda which is strengthening the divisive politics prevalent in the country. One concedes that large sections of society are swayed by the film. As such their ‘Hate for religious minority’ has got heightened and the maker of the film Vivek Agnihotri himself says that he is not just a film maker, he has an agenda.

The left liberal strands are worried by the negative impact of the film and its inadequacies, partial truth and one sided projections of the incidents and their interpretation. What Kumar is upholding is a totally fallacious view. It is true that Kashmir did see separatism right from the decades of 1950s, but this had no base in Islamic fundamentalism or Muslim communalism. 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, which Kumar thinks is a fantasy, around which lies were spread. Kumar would do well to understand the nature of Kashmir through works of G.M.D. Sufi (Kashir) or renowned journalist Balraj Puri (Kashmir towards Insurgency).

It was Kashmir where Vedanta, Buddhism and Sufi traditions integrated to create the unique culture which is known and lived as 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. 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).

As far Kashmiryat; Kumar thinks it is a fantasy as he many not have heard of Nund Rishi (Nooruddin Noorani) or Lal Dedh or festival like Kheer Bhavani celebrated by people of Kashmir. Kumar may also not have heard of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous statement that he wants to solve the Kashmir issue through Insaniyat (Humanism), Jamhooriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri Syncretism).

Kumar is partly right that the 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 Kashmiri Pundits. The film and also Kumar seem to paint 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. Kumar will do well to know the weapons used by these rogue elements were provided by American project via Pakistan.

As film maker concedes that he has an agenda, so far him wholeness of the truth is dispensable. He tries to blame Kashmiri Muslims for the Pundits exodus; he indirectly blames National Conference and Indian National Congress for the plight of Pundits. That’s where one has to remind him about Jagmohan (Who later became Minster in BJP Government) providing the facilities for Pundits to leave the valley, and also remind the film maker and Kumar that 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, and over 700 Muslims were killed along with nearly 300 Pundits. It has clicked on box office as already social perceptions have been created from last few decades in particular; where one community has been demonized through various conduits. Currently criticizing the left liberals is the favorite game of the most and this article is no exception to that. The writer like the film totally ignores the peculiar problem of Kashmir where the separatism began in historical circumstances when Indian continuously went on trampling on the autonomy promised to Kashmir all through.

The author has to tell us how Islamic fundamentalism is changing the secular character of our country? We recall acts of terror like 26/11 Mumbai and other acts of terror during the period of 2006-2008. 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. And who is turning our religious processions in to occasions to provoke minorities and then rolling the bulldozers on their houses.

Kumar will do well distinguish the roots of terror in Pakistan trained madrassas and not to link it to the average Muslims of our country. He is putting the foot in wrong shoe by blaming erosion of secularism in India due to Islamic Fundamentalism (and Muslims). Allergy for left liberals is leading him to see the reality in the inverted way!

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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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