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28 Aug

Explaining the genocide and exodus of Kashmiri pandits based on Vivek Agnihotri's Film The Kashmir files.

Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri is doing what India has not done for the past 31 decades -- revealing the truth behind the Kashmiri Hindu genocide.

Producers Vivek Agnihotri and his partner Pallavi Joshi decided to change the way they view their country. They've done what India has not done in the last more than a quarter of a century -- expose the truth about the Kashmiri Hindu genocide in their film, The Kashmir Files, which is currently being screened in many cities across the United States. The scope and depth of the depiction of the Kashmiri Hindu genocide in the film, while also being kind to the capacity of the public to absorb the subject matter seriously, is an achievement in itself.

The film could not have been created without extensive, meticulous research. However, that's just one element of the story. Knowing how to incorporate that into a narrative that tells the truth, not just the absolute truth in all of its elements, requires a lot of skill, and one must be awed by Vivek and his crew for their incredible work. The film is a powerful experience and touches a raw nerve, and awakens you from your slumber.

The film tells the story of Kashmiri Hindus. Still, it is equally the story that encompasses all Hindus and possibly all the persecuted groups around the globe -- be it Jews in Germany by Christian Germany, Christians in Turkey as a result of and the Islamic Ottoman empire, or the indigenous religious traditions of Americas and Africa through the Christian West and the systematic devastation of Muslims and their nations by the deep Western state in the present. It is, however, the tale of Hindu India possibly one of the most brutalized of all societies in the world due to fundamentalist Abrahamic religions, where according to estimates, around 80 million people perished. It tells the tale of how one tiny community fought to preserve its traditions despite the immense suffering and hardships; it tells the story of the source of the most profound Hindu philosophy that was born in Kashmir, which is still an example to all of humanity and tells the story of the spineless Indian government and their whitewashing of attitudes because they are unable to confront the realities.

The Kashmir of the 1980s

Following his death in 1982, Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, the National Conference (NC) baton was handed over to the son of his father, Farooq Abdullah. He was able to win the elections in 1983. However, Ghulam Mohammed Shah, Farooq's cousin-in-law, was a defection from his party during July of 1984 and ended the government. He joined forces with the Congress and was appointed chief minister. In the aftermath, there was political instability in the state.

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) is a terrorist group banned since the year 2000. the group was brought to the forefront. On February 11, 1984, the Indira Gandhi administration executed the hanging of Kashmiri separatist Maqbool Bhat inside Tihar Jail in Delhi. The deceased's body was not transferred to his family members but was placed in the prison premises.

Bhat was given the death penalty in the Supreme Court. Still, he was executed in a hurry to calm those angry over the murder and abduction of Indian diplomat Ravindra Mahatre in the UK by an alleged aide to Bhat's JKLF. This sparked further tension within the Valley.

The problem begins


Two years later, after lock locks at the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya were allowed to be opened for Hindus to worship, relations among the communities were strained further. Conflicts between Hindus and Muslims took place across the country to Kashmir.

In 1986, Anantnag, a place of strength for Congress chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, started seeing communal tensions. Hindu temples were burned, and the property was under attack from the alleged separatists. The vandalism spread to the towns in Sopore, Vanpoh, Fatepur, Luk Bhawan, Akura, among others.

There was a growing opposition against the administration headed by Shah growing. On March 7, 1987, Rajiv Gandhi, who took over the Congress following the assassination of his mother in 1984, dismissed Shah and decided to install Farooq Abdullah back in charge of the state. Abdullah was named chief minister following the rigged elections of 1987, widely acknowledged as the cause of increasing militants in Kashmir.

A turning point


The violence against Kashmir Pandits was increasing by then. There was a massive outbreak of violence throughout the Valley. On September 14, 1989, BJP chief Pandit Tika Lal Taploo was killed. It was believed to be the first significant killing of a Kashmiri Hindu leader, and today, September 14, it is regarded by the name of "Martyrdom Day" by Kashmiri Hindus.

Taploo's murder triggered a series of murders targeting famous Kashmiri Hindus. On November 4, Neel Kanth Ganjoo, an ex-judiciary who condemned Maqbool Bhat to execution, was killed outside the J&K High Court in Srinagar. On December 27, lawyer-journalist Prem Nath Bhat was killed in Anantnag.


While this was happening, the JKLF was increasing in the point of. On December 8, 1989, they abducted Rubaiya Sayeed, the granddaughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Union Home Minister of India. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was eager to comply with kidnappers' demands, who demanded to release five terrorists. CM Abdullah and the Centre accepted the offer, which helped boost terror within the region.

The death of Taploo was a significant loss to the Kashmiri Pandits of the Valley, setting the stage for the mass exodus. An anonymous letter in a paper asks the Pandits to go caused an increase in anxiety, according to the report published in the Indian Express.


The dreadful night of January 19, 1990


The situation went out of hand on January 19. According to personal accounts by prominent Kashmiri Pandits, announcements on loudspeakers were warning Hindus to leave; speeches were made praising Islam and Pakistan.

"A host of highly provocative, communal and threatening slogans, interspersed with martial songs, incited the Muslims to come out on the streets and break the chains of 'slavery'. These exhortations urged the faithful to give a final push to the Kafir to ring in the proper Islamic order. These slogans were mixed with precise and unambiguous threats to Pandits. They were presented with three choices - Raliv, Tsaliv ya Galive (convert to Islam, leave the place, or perish).


Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims poured into the streets of the Valley, shouting 'death to India' and death to Kafirs..." writes Col Tej Kumar Tikoo in his book Kashmir: Its Aborigines and Their Exodus, as he describes the ominous night.

It was enough to frighten the Kashmiri Pandits who started leaving the Valley. They carried a few belongings, left behind their houses, and started fleeing.


On January 21, Indian troops decided to intervene. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) gunned down at least 52 Kashmiri Muslims protesting at the Gaw Kadal Bridge in Srinagar. This further angered them.

The Kashmiri Pandits who stayed behind faced more harassment, and between March and April 1990, lakhs were forced into exile.

According to the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, an organization representing those who did not leave in 1990, 75,343 Kashmiri Pandit families in January 1990, more than 70,000 fled between 1990 and 1992. More continued the leave until 2000, The Indian Express report says. Other experts say an estimated 100,000 Kashmiri Pandits of a population of 140,000 fled the Valley.


The Pandits remain in Kashmir.


About 800 Kashmiri Pandit families resolved to remain in the region. However, it hasn't always been easy for families. Now and then, an incident of violence triggers an alarm and creates fear.

In October 2021, two Kashmiri Pandits were murdered along with other civilians, which led to massive protests across Jammu and Kashmir. Many Kashmiri Pandits stayed home and decided to move their relatives to Jammu, which was considered a secure location in the state for those who were forced to relocate.

Sanjay Tickoo, who heads KPSS The KPSS's head, Sanjay Tickoo, told the Hindu, "Neither those who returned to the Valley after the 1990s nor those who have returned in The Valley are feeling safe. A lot of people are leaving due to anxiety. The criticism here is nothing more than"lip service."


While waiting for the return


These Kashmiri tribes who left the Valley believed that it was only temporary and would be returning to their homes once the situation improved. Many of them lived at a refugee camp in Jammu in a filthy environment. As militancy increased in the Valley and their hopes dwindled, they could not stay. Today the Jagti Township in Jammu is home to several families. Many live all over the nation and in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, among other cities. Some have even relocated overseas.

They're unlikely to return to where they used to call home.

The Kashmir Files is a film which must be shown to all. It's a call to action for how much danger the Indic civilization faced and why it's high time we took action more decisively and forcefully to face the challenges it is was confronted with. The ability of the people to accept is an achievement in and of itself.