It’s been more than nearly 3 months since THE KASHMIR FILES (TKF) was released and it continues enthralling viewers, emerging as one of the biggest ever Hindi film hits. Its shattering records has continued over to its digital debut where within its first week of release, it picked up 9 million views and over 300 million minutes in a week. The movie’s tremendous success becomes all the sweeter when taking in account the modest budget of 15 crore rupees in which it was made.
While the film drew applause and appreciation from hundreds of millions, and especially from the Kashmiri Pandit community that was the victim of the genocide committed upon them, it also managed to anger and rattle a host of people, primarily Hindu-haters, who though small in number, have an oversized and unwarranted influence in society. They include politicians, academics, media fraternities and of course big names from the film industry who are especially mad considering that once Vivek Agnihotri had openly crossed over to the nationalistic camp, he had been ignored and even boycotted by them. This group had even claimed that TKF would be a failure as Bharatiya (Indian) audiences didn’t like “documentaries” or films with no songs and romance.
But the film’s turning out to be a blockbuster of epic proportions has totally stumped them and made them appear look foolish and unconnected to reality. However not being of the types to admit that they were wrong all along, they’ve resorted to all kinds of nonsensical arguments to explain why the film succeeded, and this article attempts to answer most of them
#1 Claim: THE MOVIE BECAME SUCCESSFUL DUE TO ENDORSEMENT BY MODI
Arvind Kejriwal is among the first politicians to review and encourage host of films but as Delhi’s CM, he has gone a step further by making many of them tax-free such as Swara Bhasker’s “Nil Battey Sannata”, Taapsee Pannu’s “Saand ki Aankh” and Ranveer Singh’s “83”, even though they were purely commercial ventures. However, despite his own popularity with the voters, he couldn’t save the latter two movies that flopped miserably at the box office.
While Modi’s backing may have played some part in TKF’s success, it was definitely not the prime reason for the film touching such an emotional chord with Hindus, who turned out in big numbers to watch the film. Since 1947, the secular state has been trying its best to stymie every single atrocity committed upon Hindus, be it through the medium of print media, school textbooks or movies. This has continued to happen even after 2014 when the Modi government was sworn in.
Even though recently there have been some historical movies made with an attempt to portray a correct interpretation of history – though with some secular spin in most of them – they have been the notable exceptions. The industry has instead continued to encourage movies that mock Hindu traditions and customs, while blocking out movies showing atrocities committed upon Hindus, virtually remaining quiet on the genocide perpetrated on Kashmiri Hindus, even though innumerable movies have talked about the alleged sufferings of Kashmiri Muslims.
While a low-profile movie detailing the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits, Sheen was made by Ashoke Pandit in 2004, it failed to make any impact due to being dismissed by the film fraternity. Coupled with the then non-availability of social media and a host of other factors, the movie failed to make any kind of headway.
Similarly, our academia and mainstream media for the most part “turned a blind eye” to the cruelty committed on Kashmiri Pandits. Worse, some like India Today even attempted to spread falsehoods that Hindu temples in the Valley weren’t touched, and were actually being taken good care of!!! (A complete lie and fabrication as can be evidenced by the fact that even the Jammu and Kashmir administration under the various regimes of the Abdullahs and Muftis had acknowledged that 208 Hindu temples were destroyed / damaged since 1989, while some other organizations have asserted the true number to be 550 temples destroyed or damaged ¬ Ashiq, 2012; State Times, 2015)
Hindus have been hurt by this humiliation for decades. In fact, many Hindus have looked upon movies as being intensely anti-Hindu. Further, the pain and anguish that Hindus felt when ex-Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh had said “Muslims have the first right over resources” remains strong, as even the current government gives deferential treatment to minorities in terms of material and educational benefits.
It is against this background that Hindus have come out in big numbers to watch TKF because in Vivek Agnihotri, the director, they found a voice that resonates with their pent-up feelings over all these decades. He is not someone who would conceal facts because it doesn’t suit the left-liberal narrative. Most importantly, his past records reveal his fearless nature who can stand up against the entrenched anti-Hindu film establishment. His earlier film, THE BUDDHA IN A TRAFFIC JAM that revealed the extent of the nexus between Marxist academia / intellectuals, whom Agnihotri calls the “Urban Naxals”, and the Maoist rebels, became a big rage with the youth
Actually, a major part of the film’s mammoth success is because it has been completely factual with the horrific massacres that took place, with Pandit survivors coming out and commending the movie for its-near precise narration of the ghastly barbarities that befell upon them.
The film makers put in herculean efforts documenting evidences from the survivors. Vivek also addressed seminars in universities and institutes in various cities in the US and elsewhere. He became the first filmmaker invited to speak at the prestigious Capitol Hill to a packed auditorium addressed by Congressmen that included Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi and Republican Andy Barr.
The movie also won great praise from various provincial governments, with the Ohio State Senate presenting a citation, jointly signed by senators Niraj Atani and Matt Huffman that read “The writer and director of The Kashmir Files….have sought to craft a film with universal appeal that speaks to a matter of great historical importance, the forced exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits and you can be justifiably proud of your accomplishments…………” The film was first released in the United States with an unbelievable 36 organizations in the States supporting the movie. It was a big hit with theatres jam-packed and audiences spell-bound. So be it Bharat or abroad, TKF was a resounding success
#2 Claim: THE FILM TALKS ABOUT KASHMIRI HINDUS, WHEN MORE KASHMIRI MUSLIMS HAVE DIED
One of the most common complaints of the secular lobby is that the movie exaggerates the plight of Kashmiri Hindus, when according to them, tens of thousands of non-Hindus have died since terrorism began in Kashmir in a big way since late 1980s. Firstly, these numbers cited by them include those who were personally involved in the insurgency or those who were targeted by terrorists because they were supporting the Bharatiya state – be it the ordinary people or the police and security forces.
The Nazi state also killed millions of non-Jewish Germans, but while some of them such as the Roma (Gypsies) were specifically targetted due to their race, the majority weren’t. Many were killed because they were opponents of the regime. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 mega hit, Schindler’s List that won 7 Oscars, specifically covered on the Jewish Holocaust. It did not speak about the sufferings of others as it wasn’t under the purview of the film makers. But no German – neither the government nor the people – took umbrage with Spielberg on this. Because there have been other movies that have been made on the sufferings of Germans during WW2.
Vivek Agnihotri has named 8 movies which were made depicting the plight of Kashmiri Muslims during this period, with some of them like Haidar even glorifying terrorism, but none of them bothered to speak a single word on how Hindus were killed and hounded out from their homes. Whereas at least TKF towards the end, does say that Muslims, Christians and others also suffered the mayhem. Of course, the killing of any person is to be severely condemned but the movie’s theme was on the targetted killings of a community whose only crime was that they were Hindus.
Likewise, it’s a cheap and disgusting argument that since the numbers of Pandits killed – which according to various sources range from a few hundred to a few thousand – were fewer in number than other genocides, so their sufferings should be just dismissed.
There are many negationists in Europe and the Middle East (also called Holocaust deniers) who claim that Hitler couldn’t have possibly gassed that many people and it was a Jewish propaganda. Likewise, there are people in Japan who deny the huge number of Chinese killed in the Nanking Massacre. Then there are the Marxist whitewashers who choose to dispute the numbers killed by Pol Pot or Stalin. All of such negationists claim the real figures were lower, but the most important point is that none of them have dared to deny the brutality of the perpetrator. The exact numbers can be a debate for academic argument, but there is no escaping the chilling effect the Nazi actions had on Jews, the Japanese violence on the Chinese. Likewise, the effect of the massacres of Kashmiri Pandits was their forced exodus – the removal of Kashmir’s indigenous community in near – totality.
#3 Claim: MOVIE SHOWS KASHMIRI MUSLIMS AS COMPLICIT WHEN VERY FEW ACTUALLY ENGAGED IN KILLING HINDUS
It’s not as if all Germans were personally involved in the killing of Jews. But, at the same time it is to be noted that there was intense hatred against the Jews in most Christian countries throughout the centuries. According to David Kertzer’s, “The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican’s Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism”, the Catholic church played a key role in instigating hatred towards Jews in Christian societies, which means that hatred for Jews didn’t begin with the advent of Hitler, even though the Nazis came up with their plan of committing Holocaust on the entire Jewish community.
Many Germans at that time were actually supportive of Nazi hatred, though they may not have approved violence against them. Similar anti-Semitic campaigns took place across Europe. There were of course a large minority who risked their lives and stood with the Jews, such as Oscar Schindler, the protagonist of “Schindler’s List”. But post WW2, these nations have been sincerely apologetic of the past, and disgusted and ashamed at the Holocaust that wiped out big numbers of the Jewish community
Similarly, a big section of Kashmiri Muslims had been taught hatred towards Hindus in the long Muslim rule of the Valley. This further intensified with the mushrooming of Wahhabi madrasas that sprang up in big numbers from the early 1980s with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that saw huge amounts of American funds being diverted by Pakistan for its nefarious purposes.
Violence against Kashmiri Pandits began in the mid-1980s, culminating in the genocides against them that started in 1989. Warnings to Hindus came out from heavily packed mosques asking Hindus to “Raliv, Tsaliv ya Galiv”, which from Kashmiri translates to “convert, leave or perish.” Even an intensely leftist Kashmiri Hindu like Rahul Pandita, had detailed in his book “THE MOON HAS BLOOD CLOTS’ how temples were attacked, the trust of Hindu neighbours was betrayed by Kashmiri Muslims who gave them away to terrorists and how the violent campaign targeting Hindus was organized and systematic, that included massacres and rapes
Letters were sent to Pandit homes stating, “We order you to leave Kashmir immediately, otherwise your children will be harmed — this land is only for Muslims. Sikhs and Hindus cannot stay here”. The threatening note ended with a warning, ‘If you do not obey, we will start with your children. Kashmir Liberation, Zindabad.’” (Gill, 2003; Gupta, 2005; Tikoo, 2012).
No Kashmiri Muslims were targetted, not even in Jammu, where the bulk of the Pandits initially fled. So many Kashmiri Muslims students studying across various universities across the nation were unharmed, mosques were not attacked, which speaks volumes of Hindu tolerance and respect. Therefore, while it is absolutely correct that a majority of Kashmiri Muslims were not involved in the actual killing of Kashmiri Hindus, the movie’s hint of their complicity cannot be denied as very few chose to stand up and speak for Hindus or assured them protection. Rather, the environment was such that many blame Hindus for fleeing as if they had any choice.
#4 Claim: MANY KASHMIRI HINDUS HAVE REJECTED THE FILM
There are many Kashmiri Pandits who are still badly scarred by the wounds. Time has not proven a healing touch to their fear. Even though they escaped the Valley 3 decades back to a safer environment, they are still unable to come to terms with reality. Whenever the subject comes up, the same fear creeps into them. They either ignore talking about it, or downplay it. Some of them even deny they are Pandits.
I found a similar experience during one of my earlier business travels to Latin America in the 1990s. When I first met one of my contacts, an elderly person in his 80s, I asked him on his background as his name sounded Jewish. However, he refused to accept that he was so. Later on, other people from his community told me that of course the elderly person was Jewish who suffered the terror of his entire family perishing in Austria during the Nazi occupation, but somehow, he managed to escape to Mexico. But despite 50 odd years of safety in Mexico and a world that had acknowledged the horrors of the Holocaust, the fear in him hadn’t left and he wouldn’t accept that he was Jewish.
However, there are also those Kashmiri Hindus “intellectuals” who may pretend to be blind to the massacres committed to their own families / brethren, and would perpetually try to portray Kashmiri Muslims as the victims instead. Many of these are left leaning academics in universities who need to gel with their Western woke colleagues for which they would stoop to any level. For such kinds of people who’ve sworn to Uncle Marx or left-liberal ideology, facts aren’t important. They must be tailor-made to suit pet Indian Marxist theories that teach Hindus, especially Brahmins, must always be oppressors and are responsible for all problems and ills no matter what, while Muslims must always be portrayed as victims. Some names include Nitasha Kaul, Chitralekha Zutshi, Suvir Kaul, Mona Bhan (who openly works with secessionist Jamaat-i-Islami)
Then there are those like Sanjay Kak, who refuse to acknowledge that Kashmiri Hindus were killed by some Kashmiri Muslims (maybe it was aliens!), instead preferring to write how the targeting of Pandits “allowed the Indian state to paint the movement……as fundamentalist Islamic”. He’s more interested to speak on the “benefits” it served to government “propaganda” rather than acknowledging that hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus, his own brethren, had to flee the Valley to save their lives, women and religion. Well, this gentleman also happens to be a documentary maker who’s “Red Ants Dream” justifies Maoist rebels and their “martyrdom”. His works clearly expose his support for the Communist cause.
Then there are ultimate secular crackpots such as Justice Markandeya Katju, known for making hate-filled speeches against Bharatiyas (such as “90% Indians are fools”), as well as hurting Hindu sensitvities by his blasphemous statements on Sri Jagannath, while at the same time criticizing Salman Rushdie for hurting Muslims. His comments on Kashmiri Pandits are “Moreover, the atrocities on Kashmiri Pandits were done a quarter of a century ago. The present Kashmiri youth were not even born then, or were toddlers”, implying that they should forget about it, but on Godhra violence that he alleges Modi orchestrated and which he never tires of speaking, he doesn’t show the same time-level tolerance. When Art. 370 was revoked, he had the greatest sympathy on the suspension of internet and effect on Kashmiri Muslims, but he has never shown any sympathy on the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus, and continued stay in refugee camps. Call it hypocrisy, stupidity or plain Nehruvian secularism!!!!!
Parallels can be found elsewhere too, There are ultra-left Jews who are always criticizing Israel on everything, a small minority of them may even refuse to accept the state of Israel. There is a precedent for it in the New York Times (NYT) which during WW2 was a Jewish establishment but yet deliberately chose to downplay and negate the Holocaust (out of 11,500 stories they covered on WW2, just 26 were on Holocaust). In fact, NYT correspondent in Germany enjoyed excellent relations with the Third Reich right up to 1941, when USA declared war on Germany, and even later. Even though the Jewish publishers knew their correspondent was a Nazi sympathizer, they continued with his services.
Perhaps this big shock can be better absorbed by the fact that the NYT also had a soft corner for Communist ideology, and it was one of the greatest American supporters of the nascent Soviet state, and even Josef Stalin. Its correspondent in Moscow, Walter Duranty whitewashed all the crimes committed by the Soviet Union, including the millions of Kulak farmers who were either killed / deported to Siberia and also Stalin’s policies that caused the famine in Ukraine killing millions. Duranty did accept the “mess of Stalin’s collectivization”, but added a cruel justification “to put it brutally – you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”. Despite such open support to Stalin, NYT kept him as their correspondent till 1941.
So, a Jewish institution whitewashing the Holocaust and Stalin’s crimes of the 1930s and today’s Kashmiri Pandit left-liberals downplaying the crimes against their own community – it clearly shows that their religious / ethnic identity is purely incidental
#5 Claim: WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT KASHMIRI PANDIT ETHNIC CLEANSING?
Another argument doing the round is there have been so many massacres in independent Bharat so what is unique about Kashmiri Pandits ethnic cleansing?
This genocide is the most disturbing episode in this country since 1947 era partition violence that killed millions, and uprooted tens of millions. For the Kashmiri Pandit saga probably represents the “most horrific, successful ONE-SIDED ethnic cleansing” since partition. In fact, not just in Bharat, if we leave aside the forcible removal of Jews, Europeans and Asians from many autocratic and military countries of Middle East and Africa, then there has been probably no other community in the world since WW2 that has suffered the ignominy of seeing more than 95% of their community kicked out from their ancestral homelands, with many of them still living in the most miserable conditions
There is no doubt that other genocides have been extremely brutal, such as the Rwandan genocide but today though the peace may still be fragile, yet the minority Tutsi tribe who had been the main targets of the genocide (though the majority Hutus also suffered later) do live in their own areas in Rwanda.
Similarly, if we look at the displacement of people during the Balkan violence of the 1990s, it’s true that once upon a time Bosnia-Herzegovina was a place where Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats lived together side by side, especially in Sarajevo, the capital. But no longer. Today, Bosnia – Herzegovina is 70% Bosniak, 22% Croats (mostly found in areas bordering Croatia) and only 3% Serbs. Likewise, Republika Sprska, the breakaway republic is overwhelmingly Serb at 82% with just 14% Bosniaks. The situation in Bosnia today is quite similar to the 1923 Greek-Turkish tit-for-tat exchange of population
No doubt the genocides upon Hindus in East Pakistan / Bangladesh, and forced removal of Hindus in Bhutan, were extremely brutal, but today Hindus still form significant, though much diminished, proportion of populations in those countries. The ghastly genocide of Sikhs in 1984 in Delhi and elsewhere and the gruesome violence in Gujarat (that also killed Hindus in big numbers) did not see Sikh or Muslim populations in both places declining.
But in the case of Kashmir Valley, Hindus have almost completely disappeared. It has been a most “near-perfect ethnic cleansing” with just 2% of the 500,000 Hindus still remaining in the valley. The Muslim population in Hindu majority Jammu in the same period has continued to grow rapidly, whereas the Valley is Hindu-less. Unlike Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was a purely one-sided ethnic cleansing. Most disturbingly, this genocide occurred under the watchful eye of a democratic country!!!!
It is a matter of great sadness and shame that ethnic cleansings of Hindus within Bharat didn’t end with Kashmiri Pandits. Take a look at Mizoram. 33,000 of the 73,000 Bru / Reang Hindus were forced to flee the state in the mid-1990s or face murder and persecution under the radical Christian government (Christianity forms 88% of the population). The remaining 40,000 Brus who remained in Mizoram had to convert to Christianity under duress to be able to continue living there, so much so that today there are almost no more Brus in Mizoram who are practicing their traditional faith. Even among those who escaped to Tripura when the CPI (M) government was ruling, Christian missionaries took advantage of their deplorable plight in refugee camps and managed to convert 40% of them, though a good number of them in Tripura have since returned back to Hindu Dharma. Like the Kashmiri Pandit genocide, most in the mainstream media have not cared two hoots to report on this barbaric expulsion of Hindus from Mizoram.
And while the vast majority of Mizo Christians are in unanimity about the expulsion of Bru Hindus to Tripura, even though they lived there for so many generations, they have the nerve to not just welcome but insist that recently-fled Chin Christian refugees from Myanmar must be settled in Mizoram despite the union government’s objections. So, Christians from another country are OK, Brus who convert to Christianity still tolerated BUT Mizo Brus who remain Hindus won’t be accepted.
Hindus condemn any kind of violence committed against any innocent person, but the violence against Kashmiri Pandits had never been properly highlighted till the release of Vivek Agnihotri’s revolutionary film on the subject, which has created so much awareness of the kinds of genocides that Hindus have suffered in their own country. So much so that there are now demands being made that films be made on other massacres committed on Hindus be it the Moplah Massacre of 1920, the Marichjhapi murders of Bengali Namasudras and other Dalits by Jyoti Basu’s government, etc.