By Special Correspondent
On March 11, a film named Kashmir Files was released across India and it took theatres by storm. The film ‘highlights’ the plight of Kashmiri Pandits who suffered during the insurgency in the 90s.
Soon after its release, the film started to make headlines, many called it an actual representation of the conflict in the valley. While the film takes the plight of Pandits into account, it does injustice to the sufferings of Kashmiri Muslims and paints them with a black brush.
Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti, an organisation that looks after the interests of the remaining Pandits in Kashmir, in 2011, had said that as many as 650 Pandits were killed in the valley.
The number was much lower, according to a 2021 RTI, filed by activist PP Kapoor from Haryana’s Samalkha. The RTI said many as “89 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in attacks since the inception of militancy in 1990”.
According to the RTI, 1724 people have been slain by militants in Kashmir over the last three decades. More than 1600 of them were Muslims. Kapoor said that KPs account for roughly 5% of those slain by militants in Kashmir.
Estimates are that 15-20,000 people (insurgents, armed forces, civilians, etc) have died since the insurgency began (Ganguly, 1996b, 77).
Most of those killed are Kashmiri Muslims civilians.
Motilal Bhat, the president of the Pandit Hindu Welfare Society, in an 2011 Aljazeera report, has said that the number of Pandits killed in Kashmir stands at 219, which is also the government figure.
Pandits started to leave the valley on 19 January 1990, according to Human Rights Watch as many as 100,000 Pandits left the valley “with the encouragement and assistance of the government”. Reports by Indian government state around 140,000 migrated due to militancy while over 3000 stayed in the valley. Many people in the Valley believe that the Government of India and the then Governor, Jagmohan had encouraged the Pandits to leave so as to have a free hand in more thoroughly pursuing reprisals against Muslims.
After the exodus happened, Kashmiri Pandits have been used a ‘scapegoats’ by various Right Wing Hindu groups.
In 2021, the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) said that the Pandits were being used by various TV channels to carry out their nepherious designs . The orgazsation had requsted the govermnet of India to stop Kashmir centric debates on TV if they wanted Kashmiri Pandits to live in Peace.
At this juncture, a film based on such sensitive issues will spread the discord further in the valley and India in general.
Several Videos viral on social media show people ralling outside Cinema halls and yelling “Jai Shree Ram” and other Hindu slogans.
— H𝐚𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐝 ↁ𝐞𝐬𝐚𝐢 #प्रशासक_समिति (@Harshid_Desai1) March 13, 2022
Some experts have said that the film is being used to weaponize the Kashmiri Pandits issue to further BJP plans, to spread disinformation that Kashmiri Hindus are indigenous to Kashmir while Muslims were outsiders and to create consensus for demographic change.