The Kashmir Files: No easy answers

After gathering much courage, I went to see The Kashmir Files yesterday evening. I have read and heard the different narratives on Kashmir and Kashmiris, the strongest often coming from my alma mater, Jawaharlal Lal Nehru University. I am a confused third-generation liberal who is often caught between the war of narratives and arguments between the left and the right when it comes to identity and the homeland. There are many more stories and narratives that are yet to be said, heard, or probably acknowledged. My homeland has a deeply contested history; yes, we are not good with record keeping and we also have a sharply divided polity.
On the one side are my grandparents and extended family’s traumatic and violence-ridden departure from their homeland in Pakistan, along with lakhs of other Hindus and Sikhs. My paternal grandparents called Haripur Hazara in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa their birthplace and homeland. My maternal grandparents called Gujarat, a city in Punjab province, their birthland. In 1947, they migrated to Delhi under extreme duress amidst fear of religious persecution threats. Many articles and books have been written on the saga of partition. But nothing can capture the pain and anxiety when my grandparents told me about multiple instances where young women collectively jumped or were pushed into the village wells to avoid getting raped. My grandparents are no more; hence, the memories around those incidents have also faded. But one memory refuses to go away, my maternal grandfather’s deep yearning to see his home once, even when he staunchly refused to see the photos and videos of Lalamusa, his hometown on Youtube. The Kashmir Files took me on a memory lane, where similar stories of pain and brutality echoed. The decade and the geography were different, but the heart-wrenching screams were the same. Numerous Kashmiri Hindus were mercilessly thrown out of their homes using violence against women as a potent weapon.
On the other hand, the whole narrative on the rights and justice forwarded by the left based academicians provides a nuanced perspective to understand society and polity. The issues of communal divide, caste-based atrocities and the whole class-based stratification of the community provide a historical lens to view and understand contemporary socio-political issues. In their company, one learns and understands the perspective of the other side. One hears the screams and cries from the other side too. Also depending on which side you take, your image of victim will also change. But whatever side you choose based on your political beliefs and ideology, trivializing human tragedy can not be accepted.
On the specific Kashmir issues, I have read and appreciated the views of the many celebrated authors, academicians and journalists. I do agree with the right to self-determination by the Kashmiri Muslims. I understand them better now without any prejudice. But we also need to understand that Kashmir is a contested land between two nuclear-armed countries, India and Pakistan. One can not ignore Pakistani aggression in this matter. So there is more to it in terms of legality, international conventions than the rights and free will of the Kashmiri Muslims alone.
It gets further complicated when the moral and ethical imperative of the exodus and the brutality towards Kashmiri Hindus has come to light after more than thirty years.
I have been to Kashmir twice, once when I visited Amarnath, a Hindu shrine located in Anantnag district and second when I visited Baramulla district due to work. I have seen helplessness in the eyes of young Kashmiri youth because of corruption in the government-led schemes, high unemployment and security threats. They, too, desired safety, peace and economic prosperity just like the rest of us. After all, it’s not easy to live in the world’s most militarized zone.
I have no answers or solutions to this complex and multidimensional problem. I only ask for peace forcefully and passionately. Don’t let humanity perish, in these war of narratives.

2 thoughts on “The Kashmir Files: No easy answers

  1. Hi, welcome back, after a long time! Nice expressions as always and to the core.
    Maybe you can also write a bit more on how humanity can move from now on given troubled past in that region without perpetual silent war. I can’t imagine how we cause terror to ourselves in different names :(. O did not see the movie, but after seeing and contrasting with personal narratives, is it a best portrayal ? And was it a necessary one amidst world going crazy into unnecessary war moods?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kashmir has a long turbulent history and sometimes it’s impossible to go forward without going backwards. You have raised many issues, and I don’t have the answers. But see Haider (movie), to understand other side. But I am also very sure that there was no other side. Dr B.R. Ambedkar said we were all one..same language, same culture and also same race. But the ‘will’ to live together was not there. So, it’s very complicated.


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