National and International Issues

The Kashmir Files: A Bird’s Eye View

Modi-led India under RSS ideology has again stooped to a new low in their hatred against Muslim minority in the country. “The Kashmir Files” is not only factually incorrect but highly divisive in an already genocidal environment against Muslims.

A right-wing propaganda movie named The Kashmir Files was released on March 11, 2022. Since then, this 170-minutes-long film and the alleged plight of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 has become a burning issue in India. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s chief Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have talked about this movie so much that ironically it seems there is nothing else going on in India that warrants attention. 
Hatred against Muslims has surpassed genocidal levels and incidents of violence against them have erupted all across India. To understand this film's motive and design, we have to take a historical look at what happened to the Kashmiri Pandits. 
It is noteworthy that on January 30, 1990, a large public gathering was called at Lal Chowk in Srinagar by the Kashmiri Hurriyat leadership. India had anticipated that this gathering was expected to draw around one million people, and the impression was solid that the people of Jammu and Kashmir might declare complete independence of Kashmir from India. Delhi could not afford all this at any cost, so on January 19, 1990, Jagmohan Malhotra was sent as the Governor of the occupied territory for the second time. He was given a full mandate by the Indian government to sabotage this gathering at any cost and crush the Kashmir independence movement. Jagmohan confessed this in his autobiography, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir that was published in 1991.
Impartial observers are of the view that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union reinforced this perception on a global scale that if a superpower like the Soviet Union could collapse, the fall of the Berlin Wall was possible. If more than ten new states like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia could come into existence, then why could not Kashmir get independence from India? Thus, Kashmir independence movement gained tremendous momentum and rulers in Delhi tried their best to sabotage it.
Back to what was happening in Kashmir, Jagmohan Malhotra successfully prevented the abovementioned gathering from taking place and raised the issue of exploitation of Kashmiri Pandits under a nefarious design and it did irreparable damage to the independence movement of Kashmir. It is an anomaly that Indian Muslims are still being punished and despised for this alleged exploitation that they had nothing to do with. 

Here the question arises whether this film is also a part of the same hybrid warfare under which the anti-Muslim and anti-Islam sentiments are being intensified in the Hindu community? First, we need to focus on the story of this film, its characters, and its launching method.

Jagmohan was ousted just a few months later, on May 26, 1990, because under his governorship, a record number of inhumane atrocities were committed, and he utilized government machinery to its fullest to undermine the Hurriyat movement. International media started reporting these events, and Delhi was left with no choice but to replace him only after 128 days of his appointment. 
More than 11,650 days have passed since the removal of Jagmohan, but the issue of Kashmiri Pandits is still raging across Hindustan. Such hype was deliberately created at the governmental level that this 170-minute movie pushed elections of five Indian states, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab, and Goa, into the background and this film has become the first Hindi movie to make INR 250 crore business post-pandemic. 
Here the question arises whether this film is also a part of the same hybrid warfare under which the anti-Muslim and anti-Islam sentiments are being intensified in the Hindu community. First, we need to focus on the story of this film, its characters, and its launching method. This nearly three-hour-long movie revolves around the alleged atrocities perpetrated on the Kashmiri Pandits in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) in 1990.
The renowned actor who played the role of a Kashmiri Pandit in the movie, Anupam Kher, is a Kashmiri Brehman himself and enjoys being in the news for his extremist statements against India's most significant minority. His wife, Kiran Kher, is also a member of Lok Sabha from Chandigarh on Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ticket. It is pertinent to mention that Anupam Kher himself has an ancient relationship with the BJP and the RSS. Neutral observers believe that once the Bollywood industry was known worldwide for its soft image, but now the poison of anti-Muslim sentiment has engulfed this sector. Making statements against Muslims and other minorities has become a trend in Bollywood, and the more an actor proves to be a Hindu nationalist, the more he is projected by Hindu organisations.
Anupam Kher is also known for his fondness for Narendra Modi and the RSS ideology. It may be recalled that in January 2020, he addressed Naseer-ud-Din Shah as a frustrated drug-addicted clown for raising concerns over growing Hindu extremism. Recently, he revealed in an interview that he invites Pandits every other day to "cleanse" his house with Gangajal. 
The film's main cast also includes Mithun Chakraborty, who was associated with the Naxalite movement early in his life. In 2014, Mamata Banerjee made him a member of the Rajya Sabha on Trinamool Congress ticket, but later, he became the main face of BJP in the 2021 West Bengal elections. He disguised himself as a Hindu nationalist under his party's ideology and criticized Mamata Banerjee for having a soft spot for Muslims from time to time. 
Now it is necessary to look at the motives of the film and the hidden factors. Through this, India is trying to somehow interpret the independence movement of IIOJK as terrorism on the global scale. This Hindi language film has been declared tax-free in several Indian states and is being promoted by the Sangh Parivar organizations like Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), RSS, and Bajrang Dal; all Hindus are being urged to watch the film. Even government employees are being offered time off if they watch the film. 
The Kashmir Files is also being promoted on social media in every possible way, and as an obvious result, hatred against Indian Muslims among Hindus is on the rise. Hate speech is being made openly against Muslims. Hindus are being persuaded that there is no place for any other religion in India, and the elimination of minorities from Hindustan is necessary. Muslims are being portrayed as monsters. The film not only targets Muslims, but also blames the Congress government for the atrocities committed against the Kashmiri Pandits. It is noteworthy that the creation and purpose of this film continues to be criticized by moderate circles in India itself. 
An objection is being raised that correct facts were not the priority in the story, nor was it intended to achieve justice or closure for the Kashmiri Pandits. The sole purpose of making this movie is to create hatred among the people against Indian Muslims and the opposition parties. Delhi government tried to give the impression that Indian Muslims would never accept Hindus in their life. Even young Muslim children were shown as harmful and evil in the story. The film plot shows that Muslim men lure Hindu women away from Hinduism. So by doing this, Indian agencies also promoted the ideology of the RSS’ Love Jihad campaign.
The RSS has gone to great lengths to promote the film. A few days ago, in Behrampura, Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, a group of angry Hindus started torturing a young man named Muhammad Adnan who was merely passing by. The members of the fanatical group were forcibly showing the movie The Kashmir Files on their mobile phones while beating the boy and saying that you [Muslims] have to be held accountable for what you [Muslims] did to the Kashmiri Pandits. After the inhuman torture, the mob threw Muhammad Adnan on the road and fled. When he was rushed to the LG Hospital in Ahmedabad in a critical condition, no doctor touched him for two and a half hours. Adnan's family then took him to another hospital where his treatment began. Police have not yet registered a case in this regard, and the perpetrators of these inhumane acts are roaming around openly. This is just one example of the rise in ruthless crimes against Muslims.
Everyone believes that the Kashmir Valley is rightly called a paradise on earth, but for a long time now, especially since August 5, 2019, the occupying Indian army has turned it into the largest prison in the world, and thus, this heaven has become a "burning paradise." BJP government justifies this movie by saying that the film only highlights human rights violations in the past. However, moderate circles are asking whether it was necessary to look at this incident in the past alone? Is there no other example of a more extensive and more tragic human rights violation in India? Nellie, Kunan Poshpora, Chattisingapura and Gujarat massacre are some noteworthy case studies, in this regard. While mentioning Indian atrocities in the occupied valley, let us briefly look at the Kunan Poshpora incident. February 23, 2022 marked the 31st anniversary of the Kunan Poshpora tragedy. This is such a tragic incident that every human being's heart breaks even while describing it. Kunan and Poshpura are twin villages in the Kupwara district of IIOJK. Thirty-one years ago, on February 23, 1991, humanity was humiliated when Indian occupying forces cracked down on these villages in the name of a search operation. Furthermore, according to Human Rights Watch, between 100 and 150 women were collectively raped, and this disgusting act continued throughout the night. From 80-year-old women to 13-year-old girls, all were subjected to this brutality. It is a tragedy that leaves everyone dumbstruck.
It should also be mentioned that 2191 Muslims were put to death in just six hours on February 18, 1983 in the region of Nellie in the Indian state of Assam. A Hindu intellectual named Radha Kant, during his interview on a TV program a few days ago said that it is normal to kill innocent people every day in IIOJK, and usually, after a few days, these events are not even mentioned anywhere.  Let us have a look at what happened in Nellie in 1983. Villages of Assam, namely Alisingha, Khulapathar, Basundhari, Baghduba Beel, Barjalah, Banani, Inder Mari, Maladhari, Mati Parbat, Mati Parbat No. 8, Sabhata, Barbara, and Nellie were suddenly stormed by RSS goons at around 9 in the morning, and thousands of Muslims were slaughtered in those areas within a few hours. 

From 80-year-old women to 13-year-old girls, all were subjected to this brutality. It (Kuman and Poshpora) is a tragedy that leaves everyone dumbstruck.

It is important that in those days, propaganda was in full swing in Assam that Muslim refugees from Bangladesh were occupying and enjoying all the resources of the province. Behind this movement was an organization called All Assam Students’ Union, whose spirit was a student leader named Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who later became the Chief Minister of Assam. The main impetus for this movement was that Indira Gandhi had announced the temporary granting of Indian citizenship to four million refugees from Bangladesh. In contrast, the extremist Hindus had joined the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Bodoland Front refused to accept the decision, saying it would not allow Muslims from Bangladesh to settle in Assam under any circumstances. According to analysts, Modi's controversial Citizenship Amendment Act is a new link in the chain in this regard.
It is pertinent to note that Hamandar Narain of The Indian Express, Bedbrata Lahkar of The Assam Tribune, and Ajay Sharma of ABC News were eyewitnesses of the Nellie genocide and gave full details of the event in their newspapers. It is said to have been the worst genocide since World War II.
If we talk about Indian state terrorism in IIOJK, only in March 2022, 16 Kashmiris were martyred, while several women were widowed. Under the Indian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 96 innocents were arrested, and nobody has heard of them ever since. It is also haunting that the count of half widows in IIOJK is increasing with each passing day because many Kashmiris are among those who were taken away by Indian occupation forces, but since the martyrdom of all such persons could not be confirmed, their families are in a strange situation because their wives could not be counted as widows. 
Why doesn’t Indian government make a film on the plight of such half widows? Another grave human rights violation in IIOJK is the discovery of countless mass graves. According to a report published by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in 2009, at least 2700 unmarked single or mass graves are spread across 55 villages of Kupwara, Baramulla, and Bandipora districts of IIOJK. These unceremonious burial sites contained nearly 3,000 bodies. 
World human rights activists need to probe the inhumane treatment of Muslims in India impartially, especially the plight of Kashmiri Muslims in IIOJK. The world must make sure that all the facts come to light so that everyone may know the difference between myths and ground realities.

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