The movie Kashmir Files has created a fierce debate about what’s true and what’s not, what’s real history and what’s distorted history.
The Kashmir Files is the latest rage in India. it has set the nation on fire. Riveting and graphic, it holds up the cause of the Kashmiri Pandit and brings forth the sheer gruesomeness of the genocide of 1990 and the exodus thereafter.
The movie is making history as many social media memes announce, in terms of box office collections. People are thronging to movie halls to shed a tear and empathise with our brothers and sisters who have still not got a solution for the last 30 years.
Like any proud Indian, I too totally support the cause of the mentally and emotionally desecrated Kashmiri Hindu. Just as I am about the Gujarati Muslims and the Delhi Sikhs. Each has been subject to organised cleansing either in the name of religion or retribution. Each still waits for justice to be meted out, right since 1984.
Let us forget the fact that the movie is wrong on many of its narratives, right from the numbers to the people actually responsible, to the colour-washing of certain segments of society, to the issue of the technical status of Kashmir without the promised referendum/plebiscite, and to the fact that people of all types have equally suffered in the valley for the last seven decades at the hands of all sorts of authority and terrorism.
Let us take the movie in the right spirit for it is a movie and not a documentary. The latter can be pulled up for misrepresentation of facts or partial truths, but the former cannot for the sheer creative licence it carries on a lanyard.
So, my question to my Kashmiri Pandit brothers and sisters is, what after the movie?
What exactly do you plan to do? How exactly do you propose to live your lives post TKF? Do you wish to come out of the movie hall teary-eyed or fiery-eyed? Do you feel the movie is the solution or just a spark for demanding a solution?
Protest or Plead
It has been thirty long years since the genocide and yet no demonstrable redressal, whichever be the government in power. They have all taken you for a ride, either neglecting you or using you merely to win votes.
Get out and protest, for your own sake. See how the farmers brought the government to its knees in 11 months. Pitch tents at the Delhi border and see what happens. You anyways have been denied a home for three decades…what more can you lose? Get the world media to train its cameras on your plight. See if the government has the guts to brand you as anti-national. See if IT cells create memes deriding you. Just stand up together and be seen.
Stop pleading for a solution for it will never come. There will be half measures like resettlement colonies in Jammu. You need your homes back. You need your occupations back. You need your security back on your own soil.
Entitlement or Extraction
Do not ever think that your solution is an entitlement. You have the Sikhs of Delhi as a glaring example before you. Their fight continues till today. sadly, nothing positive in this nation is by entitlement, be it freedom, equality, or justice. Sadly, only the negatives come as entitled…corruption, nepotism etc. If you think that your ethnic status assures you redressal, then you are sadly mistaken.
You need to extract clear plans and timelines from the government, this or the ones that follow. You need not a mere acknowledgement of your plight. You need clear action. You need the government to apologise for its inaction, right from 1991.
Distraction or Demand
The movie is merely a distraction, covering up for lack of action and not meeting the promises made to you by the powers that be. It is a creative diversion to justify scrapping of Article 370 that actually benefited you too till it was in force. Box office returns will have no bearing on your return. It is to take away focus from any serious questioning and investigation on budgets allocated and actual spending on your rehabilitation.
Demand answers. Demand accountability. Demand what heads will roll due to inaction or ineptness. Long ago, Netaji had said, “Freedom is not given, it is taken!” You have been shackled in the life of a homeless, hapless refugee in your own country. You need to break free from these shackles. Nobody will give you this freedom but yourself. Demand it!
At the end of the day, we are a selfish group of people as a nation. Our support and empathy largely are restricted to social media posts and memes. Except for cricket, we do not get together as a nation, forget about some people who were brutally torn from their land thirty years ago. Ask even 10% of those coming out of the movie halls to stand with you at Jantar Mantar for the next one month holding placards and raising their voices for your cause. You will come across the most creative of excuses.
Will you be happy with pity being showered on you?
Or will you get together as a powerful force and ram the ramparts of the parliament into action?
Will you find solace in a movie-making history?
Or will you rewrite history by yourselves?
The choice is entirely yours!
I end my appeal with some words from a song by The Who,
Let’s see action. Let’s see people
Let’s see freedom. In the air
Let’s see action. Let’s see people
Let’s be free. Let’s see who cares
Also Read: Fake news: It’s all about a twist of words
(Avik Chattopadhyay is co-creator of Expereal India. Also, he is the former head of marketing, product planning, and PR at Volkswagen India. He was associated with Maruti Suzuki, Apollo Tyres, and Groupe PSA as well.)
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