Tuesday, December 23, 2008

THE ‘K’ FACTOR - Irrationality of rational realist films..

Films From Kashmir,
Films For Kashmiris,
Without Kashmiri Pandits!

In the world of documentaries, every artist has the freedom to choose and deliver at his own will. All the more better if supported by the government and masses. As every filmmaker tricks the audience into believing his theme as abject truth, the masses too tend to drown themselves into it.

This weekend proved to be a crammed package of films on J&K. As one channel flashed a documentary based on a famous poem, the other channel followed with a special report on the children of conflict. Like always this viewer remained glued hoping against hope to catch a minority face…but I am glad my hopes were not raised. The first film reiterated their ‘freedom struggle’ as ‘satyagraha’; the other believed that the children of the valley are the worst victims.

Once more we had to watch the pain of the majority (Muslim) community, their kith and kin and their troubles caused at the hands of the ruthless Indian government. Once again the filmmakers decided to ignore that ‘there once lived a minority that now has the whole galaxy as their home except their own valley’. It is always troublesome to watch young lives suffer, their faces becoming a paradox to peace. But to believe that the conflict war zone weighed heavy only on population presently in the valley, one is mistaken.

As I saw snowy white faces of little kids in Kashmir, as cameras zoomed on the cherry red glow on these cheeks; I suddenly saw myself in Jammu. The same white cheeks of some Kashmiris have turned coal black; the only margin remained the ‘athoor’ dangling from female ears. When I heard a completely tanned teacher recite a Sanskrit prayer at the overcrowded Purkhoo camp and saw him scold some students in Kashmiri, the irony of calling them Kashmiris struck like a sword.

The above statement is anything but racist. The tanned skin mirrored years of hopelessness and eternal toil seep out with sweat on their faces. There was no red glow I could zoom into. I saw frustration and frustration little more. The news channel cut into a break which brought me back to my room and I lay frozen with the remote, knowing not what to do. At times I wonder if Hindus of Kashmir really exaggerate their pain or is it because we form the majority of this nation that we fail to make good news stories as victims.

Some refer to the Jammu refugee camps as a political gimmick, but it is the cowardice of educated filmmakers that they use their prerogative to ignore us. Ajay Raina, Ashok Pandit and Rajesh Jhala are some who dared to shed light on the issue. But then looking at the statistics, for one documentary on the Hindu minority there are ten for the majority. A film on the desecration of temples is termed communal while stories on Ayodhya/AFSPA are screened worldwide. Surprisingly the filmmakers and reporters who glorify the terrorists as ‘saviours of Kashmiris’ saw the same Kashmiris boycott separatists to vote for a record 65% in the recently held elections.


There is no doubt that films cannot transform the world, they do not possess that much power. However, as a filmmaker one still tries to use this freedom of expression to put forth the hidden truth. Every draconian law and every suppressed community has a filmmaker to boast of… except for the Hindus in forced exile. Some day in near future we too shall have a document of minority in the valley that the world can peak through- a document that delves deep into broken temples, broken families, broken hearts… above all a broken state.

Finally to conclude with how ignored we remain here’s the following truth- When Pakistan sponsored terrorism hit the valley, Kashmiri Pandits screamed their hearts out. When their homes burnt to ashes in front of their wet eyes, they stood up in protest. The Indian government was asked to take stringent steps. No one heard Kashmiri Pandits back then… No one heard them now as Mumbai burnt.

And yet we all know the truth. Don’t we?

(The author Pooja Shali is a Mass Communication masters student at New Delhi's A.J.K. MCRC. She can be reached at poojashali@gmail.com)


anand patwardhan said...

it was shocking to hear kashmiri militants speak so casually about taking human life. whatever the cause, this is a mindset that can lead only to further dehumanization. i appreciate the fact that atrocities on kashmiri pandits do not generally get spoken about in some circles but it is also true that atrocities on the muslim majority in kashmir also do not get highlighted in other circles. human rights and human values are indivisible and we do harm when we ignore the pain of others.

you are right to point out the pain inflicted on pandits but did you notice manoj raghuvanshi's last comment after the interview with the kashmiri militant? this militant is advocating that all militants should surrender and participate in talks but the interviewer still ends by describing him as someone yearning for martyrdom.

such thinking will prevent the peace process from taking root. whatever the pain we must move in the right direction.

best, anand

Punkajj C Dhar said...

"'there once lived a minority that now has the whole galaxy as their home except their own valley'. I"

Well said.

But I would prefer to rephrase it if we all agree with it..

"'there once lived a MAJORITY FORCIBLY REDUCED TO MINORITY AND THEN FORCIBLY TO ZERO- BY ISLAMIZATION OF KASHMIR- that now has the whole galaxy as their home except their own valley'. I"

but nevertheless a very good stand taken.Great.

Best Regards,
Punkajj C Dhar

nerd said...

Very true words by the writer! In fact, this is an issue on which the silence is deafening!

sandhya mahajan said...

A truly painted picture of media indifference towards the plight of kashmiri pandits and also the people of jammu who have to bear the consequences of being forcibly glued to kashmir and then suffer silently, notwithstanding the fact that these both are the ones who always carry the tricolor in hands amidst deafening voices of AZADI.

its laughing to hear words of sympathy from so called human right activists towards the HELPLESS militants and the forced circumstances under which they took to guns!No person with a heart can aim gun at toddlers and women whatever circumstances may be! But the fact is that the one-point agenda of all kashmiri muslims to convert Kashmir into an Islamic State with Nizam-e-Mustafa(let me emphasise ALL) in late eighties made them happily pick up AK-47 and kill all those who were in a slightest way opposed to that.

Rest only those knows who have gone through the agony of leaving their homes and shiver in tents at the mercy of God!!

saaimah khwaja said...

The first day I watched Sanjay’s ‘jashne- azadi’ was in history deptt of Jamia. My very good friend Pooja who has written this piece was present there. Usually for any screening we would sit together and discuss like hell…what we call doing the ‘post mortem’ of the film at Mcrc. This time she took a seat at the back. That point of time I acknowledge that I was not too keen on the subject. I merely came to watch the much hyped film. I missed the starting but sat to watch the entire film. What I could conclude from the film was it “examines the violence and the after effects of violence which people face in the valley- till today”-. Violence of the last two decades in the struggle for freedom–in Kashmir’s complex history with India. I would say that was my beginning of entering into Kashmir saga! And it followed with the lots of readings on the issue. A day later I got the call that it’s being screened at IHC in the coming days.

So, again Sanjay presented the arguments and he does it just fine …as always! “The average life of a militant in J&K, who has taken up arms against the Indian state, is not more than one or one and a half years. Picking up the gun in the Valley is like signing one’s death warrant. The army presence is massive and overwhelming. To be a militant in Iraq is easier than in Kashmir. For less than a thousand (as claimed by the Indian govt.) at present there are at least seven lakh armed forces. Even then if you think that moneymaking is the sole objective of all fighters, you need to correct your understanding. Why do you think those people come out in such large numbers on the funerals of martyrs? Women wailing and beating their chests. People shouting slogans.”
“Couldn’t it be due to the fear factor?” asked a lady.
“Very possible that people come out due to the threat of militants. But how can you make them feign emotions? How can you make women cry by force? Passion cannot be generated artificially. People can’t be coerced into it. It’s so only when those killed are martyrs of just cause for the population.” Questions, counter questions, answers. All continued for a while. Some very important issues were raised and discussed. The control of army over the people’s lives in the villages of Kashmir. The majority of Kashmiri people reside therein and it’s the villages of Kashmir where you can see the raw emotions against the occupation. Humiliation, torture, gazes. The interference in the village affairs is too much to bear. Peoples’ movement both to and from the villages is closely watched.” Discussion over, the Speaker-Director and the audience both were thanked for coming. People who watched the film left. Thinking, pondering. Most disturbed, uncomfortable. Truth does disturb. More so, when it is unpleasant and related to you somehow.
For those who haven’t yet seen the film, some genuine advice. Must-Watch-it. It’s great.

Talking about the recent elections in Kashmir- masses rejected the boycott appeal and voted for CIVIC AMENITIES — jobs, better roads, electricity and healthcare — the daily needs which cannot wait till the larger Kashmir issue is resolved!
Vote is for good governance and for attendance to daily problems faced by the people. The voter turnout must be seen in that perspective. Anyone thinking that people in the valley are giving their allegiance to the Indian state is sorely mistaken and plain silly. US invaded Iraq and conducted elections and installed a democratic govt. with 1, 75000 troops. For a small state you have deployed 500,000 troops! This is unprecedented! That shows how much support Indian govt. has among the people in the valley. Do you need a half million troops if you have the mass support among the Kashmiris? How many are deployed in bigger states like MP? Number of troops speaks itself of “Indian govt.” being an unwanted thing there. When it comes to less mechanized army, no. of troops matter and determines the wars. When it comes to china, India lost the war. But India was victorious with pakis. It’s that simple. Isn’t it?

As a media student and an aspiring journalist, I make it sure not be this blind jingoistic person. May be my statement would have carried lot of weight had I not been a Kashmiri Muslim. But I do not give a darn now. That is how we can actually work truthfully and honestly as a profesional. Pooja knows that I am not much interested in film- making but certainly if need be I am ready to be her assistant camera person...Loll. But then I ponder as to how to answer those communally loaded questions from the audience which I have seen people asking before on various occasions: “ How the hell you being a Kashmir Muslim have supported a film for pundits or vice versa???” You know what I am talking about? I find such questions of lowest demeanor and don’t bother to reply or answer them. The need of the hour is to hold talks among ourselves which has not been done for the last 15- 20 years and we have to take the initiative somewhere otherwise all these blogs (which to me are like paan shops that everyone has opened nowadays), online activism is baseless and futile. There is a lot that we can discuss on the issue which is so complex to be solved through these blogs and all. KASHMIRI PUNDITS AND MUSLIMS HAVE LOST FACE TO FACE TOUCH! Reading the article, I could not stop myself to respond.

Anonymous said...

There are around 5.4 million Muslims in the Kashmir Valley. This is not a big number. There are more Hindus living in a single major city of India than the total popultion of Kashmir.

We should re-Hinduize the Kashmir Vale. First of all, Artilce 370 should be abolished. Hindus should be encouraged to settle in Kashmir.

Gradually, 50 lakh Muslims will become a minorty in Kashmir and Hindus will again become a majority in the valley as they were before the invasion of Islam in Jammu & Kashmir.

Ramesh Tekwani said...

Dear Friends

We talk of circles.
There should be only one circle.
And that should include all concerned.

Kashmiri Muslims. Kashmiri Pandits.
The Indian Government. And the film makers.

And then the Pakistanis will say "what about us"?

Does an infiltrator or the perpetrator become part of a circle?
Whose circle?

I may be the citizen of an apparently borderless global village
I am an Indian first. That is my circle. Am I right or am I not?
Could be a point of view, but that my choice and my stand is clear.

Now about a/the militant who wants to talk of peace
You do not talk of peace. You live it.
Despite the violence around you, within you.

Subah ka jihaadi shaam ko ghar lautna chaahata hai.
Aman ki baaten karna chaahata
Apni majboori ki baaten karna chaahata hai
Sau choohe khaay ke billi Haj ki kare hai baat ?

Aur apne ghar se beghar,
sar zameen se ukhaare hue kashmiri pandit
ko kya karna chahiye.

Aman ki khatir, apne watan ki yaad
ko bas yaad hi banaaye rakhna chaahiye ?

Kya hai nyaay, kya hai anyaya?

Well friends...? Fellow Documentary film makers?

When we make a documentary what is our cause?
A personal cause? A common cause? A national cause? An other???
And what is the result that we expect when we make our films?

Should it document everything? Or pick up highlights from a point of view?

So, there is a "Muslim" point of view
and a "Hindu" point of view
An "Indian" point of view
may be even a "Pakistani" point of view
a "militant" point of view
an "pacifist" point of view
an "activist" point of view
and what is the documentary film maker's point of view ?
In this entire kaliedoscope of "views" where is the "HUMAN" point of view.
Have we forgotten that we are humans first...

Have we forgotten that there is no Black or White or Grey
Only RED and that is the colour of the blood we all share and shed.

Ramesh Tekwani

Raman said...

our media, elites, political class has HINDU-PHOBIA

they are hypocrites who turn BLIND EYE to the atrocities done on KASHMIRI HINDUS

while they keep whining on gujarat/babri :)

being a hindu in this country is the biggest mistake you can do...

coz u will have a hundred's hypocrite sickulars whining for other minorities but none for hindus ~ !!!

Venkat said...

Yes, I watched that NDTV documentary and similar to the blog author's anxiety, waited to see if they were going to say something different from the usual "Kashmir Muslims are killed/raped/framed etc" but I was disappointed as usual!!

They showed dead bodies and wails of some Kashmiris... those dead were allegedly killed by Army men but no inquiry went into WHY they were killed? Some women were shown saying, they support armed struggle and that they will fight for freedom BLA BLA BLA...

I think this media is what has failed the idea of a nation-state called India. I would blame the fourth estate more than the first 3 pillars of this nation. That doesn't meant it always has to be patriotic. But, media is presenting one sided views without even mentioning what is happening to the other side!!

During the sri nagar strikes related to Amarnath yatra issue, Sagarika ghose hyperventilated and said in a poll they had conducted 56% of Indians wanted to give independence to Kashmir. Where as, after this thumping 63% voter turnout, there is no noise from sagarika.

Down down NDTV and CNN-IBN

A said...

NDTV is a proven anti Indian

disugusting that in the name of democracy we let such traitors influence other minds

down with Karat and his gang of Barkha etc.

Venkat Ramanan said...

Are the other Kashmir related documentaries available in youtube or somewhere else?

If Kashmiris say they have voted for development and Kashmiri freedom struggle still remains the same, let me ask this question. If not for development, what else do others in India vote for? Do we have other agendas too while voting?

Preeti Bakaya said...

I couldnt agree more with you on this.

I am amazed at the way that everyone seems to have convienently forgotten the fact that KPs ever lived there. I wonder if their school text books even mention it. But I partly blame the KPs also. As a community we are anything but united. We are so immersed in our personal egos and divisions that we cannot look at presenting a united stand.

Anonymous said...

the nutty thing is this....poverty in the valley is miniscule...the muslim majority is enormous....yet they get special benefits...theyre getting the cake for free and eating it...
wats the logic
nehru like the 'super noble genius (read fool)" had to go to UN and make a treaty dividing kashmir, instead of completely conquering it, which the army was then capable of....
now the pok and pak is a veritable thorn on our side....
something the west and china love, meaning were too busy bickering with a small timer failed country, while no one questions their actions...

every time the congress has to play a political agenda....Gujarat riots!!!

seem to have conveniently forgotten the ethnic cleansing of hindu kashmiris....aided by the indian center...

really now...


Radhika said...

you know the problem is that without the mention of kashmiri pandits and how the muslims forced us out, their issue seems one full of plight and pity.
however just your cause (which means that if you really want azaadi), noithing and absolutely nothing can justify exterminating some people just because you don't want them there.
they talk of azaadi - an independent kashmir, which most of the time they confuse with pakistan, but does anybody ask what the heck happens to the civil liberties of people in pok?
most of the people in the valley describe the 1990 uprising as the beginning of the evil times of kashmir. they say that "buri nazar" lag gayi kashmir par - which effectively means that they understand (given the shut down of tourism and economic progress after 1990)that the azzadi rhetoric was wrong.
political satisfaction will always be connected with economic satisfaction, and so kashmir requires first of all aclean government. for many years, j&k has been the most corrupt state in india, and so the money we give to them goes down the drain.
if not for the separatist rhetoric, and the pampering they get (the army does this, teh army does that......)kashmiri muslims don't mind India, as long as their own identity is maintained.
the problem only comes when they go overboard with their insecurity with their own identity, and start killing others for themselves.

khaqsar said...

Recently I went to INDIA TODAY site where they claim to start war on terror. I asked them when last year they beat us up along with DElhi police just because at their conclave they had hosted YASIN MALIK...arent they sponsoring terror by hosting such terrorists in 5 stars hotels..wasnt preeti zinta ashamed of sharing dias with this terrorist. Today MUMBAI is attacked because they reamined silent to our agony for 29 years and we looked like ZOO animals to them...out casts to INdian DEmocracy .. a Blot on INdian Secularism which shouldnt be visible to world.. ALas this way one day INDIA will regret..

Sunil Bhat said...

Saimmaa,you Kashmiri Muslims waged a war against India & not only that, you barbarians also threw the entire Kashmiri Pandit population out of valley. Still people like u expect us to sympathise with ur so-called cause which is nothing but pan-Islamization. Kashmiri Muslims will never succeed in their ill-designs. U are living in India, that's why u are vomiting out such poison from ur mouth, had u been in PoK u would have been put in a burqah, forget studying Journalism. So thank ur God that u were born in Kashmir which was, is & shall always remain an integral part of India. Even the Kashmiri language u speak is derived from Sanskrit & accept the fact that u have a Hindu ancestory. The reason bcz u are a Muslim today is that ur ancestors got converted either forcibly or willingly, so feel pity on urself. I'm proud to be an Indian & a Kashmiri Hindu.

As far as the issue of presence of Indian Army is concerned, tell me how many Armymen were present in valley before 1989, if u don't know ask ur elders. It was only when u Kashmiri Muslims waged a war against ur own country that our brave jawans arrived in the valley and started teaching terrorists a lesson. One thing u Kashmiri Muslims never mention is that its Indian Army which has opened so many schools, built bridges and set up vocational centres for people of valley. Most of these people are the families of terrorists. So be grateful to our Jawans. U Kashmiri Muslims welcomed Pakistani Terrorists in valley when they infiltrated there, but the very people u welcomed in 1989, later started raping ur women & killing ur men. U have got a lesson. U Kashmiris Muslims wiped out an entire community from the valley & this is such a crime which can never be forgiven & forgotten. So there is no question of talking to u barbarians. Its u Kashmiri Muslims who rejected mutual co-existence, we Kashmiri Hindus always stood for secularism & co-existence. Remember we, Kashmiri Hindus were seven times thrown out of our homes by u, Islamists. In 1990 u again committed this heinious crime for which u will not be forgiven. U are now paying the price of it. As goes the saying "as u sow so shall u reap".

Very recently people of Jammu have taught u Kashmiri Muslims a lesson.I must say this to every Indian that for saving India we have to follow Jammu and its great people. I salute the people of Jammu for their courage & bravery. U Kashmiri Muslims protested the allottment of some hectares of land for Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims, how fanactic u are?? U Kashmiri Muslims receive billions of rupees from Govt. of India but u are not even willing to give some land for the Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims. U Kashmiri Muslims study, work & do business in the rest of country & no Indian objects to that. But u Muslims have problems with people of rest of the country coming to the valley, ur so-called leaders even didn't spare the labourers of Bihar & UP. Ur so-called leaders threatened them to leave the valley. Just wait for the day when people right from down South Kanyakumari, far East Bengal & far west Gujarat will do dandi march for freeing the Kashmir from the bloody Islamic fundamentalists. U Kashmiri Muslims have the time, join the mainstream & start loving India otherwise we all Indians will wipe out u, Kashmiri Muslims from this earth.

I have a word for Patwardhan also, u self-proclaimed intellectuals are working against the interests of the country. Stop doing that, u have so much sympathy for Kashmiri Muslims who waged a war against the country, why ?? Just bcz u want to be in headlines, people like u & Sanjay Kak don't represent the civil society of the country.

Jai Hind !!

Jai Bharat !!

Sunil Bhat

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