Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A letter to Aroon Purie from an anonymous Kashmiri Pandit

Dear Mr. Purie,
I know you are a busy person for whom every moment is very precious. I,therefore, seek to be excused for this intrusion. However, I am taking this liberty as I know you as one of the ardent believers in freedom of expression. I trust you will appreciate the compulsion behind addressing this communication to you. I also believe you will empathize me as the issue being raised below by me is a concern confronting the displaced KashmiriPandit community. It also raises a sensitive question of our treatment ofthe people who openly wage war against the continuity of India as a nation.
Mr. Purie, it can be stated, without any fear of contradiction, that IndiaToday has been instrumental in shaping the life of not only a whole generation but has significantly contributed towards what India istoday. Millionsof people in India have grown reading India Today and are indebted to it for shaping their intellect. As college students, many of my friends got hookedto the magazine for the temptation of seeing the special photograph of somebeautiful model that India Today initially published as a dedicated column.Latter on when the magazine decided to stop publishing the photograph, we found despite the missing attraction, the magazine had become an addiction.For most of us and hundreds of thousands of other Indians, this obsessionhas continued to remain an integral part of our lives. And I am really gladfor that and trust so will be all others who look forward to India Today fora weekly dose of information, entertainment and intellectual stimulation.
India Today readers have always looked at it as a load star, which guidesthe people by presenting dispassionate critiques of the unfolding events week after week. People also hold the India Today group in high esteem forits innovative forays in to music, publication, and electronic media and above all for its highly stimulating annual conclaves. Most of us have always admired India Today for consistently bringing together some of thesharpest brains and achievers who through their individual contributionshave made tremendous difference in the lives of millions of people.I need to compliment you once again for your vision of selecting some of theworld's great achievers for the forth coming India Today Conclave. Most ofthe selected panelists are truly visionaries with capabilities of affectingvery positive changes in the society through the execution of their dreams.However, your selection of Yaseen Malik as on of the youth icons who can make a difference is simply baffling. I am sure this name must have shocked a vast number of your admirers. I would reckon the selection of Yaseen Malik as one of the panelists represents either a great goof up at India today or the naivety of its selectors. In either case, this reflects poorly on the institution known for its untiring fairness, fearless objectivity and tireless crusades.I don't have access to the old copies of India Today pertaining to theperiod when militancy, extremism and fundamentalism raised their ugly heads in Kashmir. But I recall during those dark days in Kashmir when all layers of social and state apparatus seemed to be under subversion, it was onlyIndia Today which brought us a true picture of the happenings around us.Please visit some of the early 1990 issues of India Today and you will find buried under the pages some of the boldest voices of those days. Wasn't it India Today, which suggested, "Govt. of India should seriously consider cutting off water and electricity supplies to mosques and other institutionsin Kashmir that utilize their premises for launching anti-national activities?" And if you dig a little further in your archives, you willfind that much before Hizbul Mujahideen, All Umar, Jihadi Council, Harkat ulAnsaar, Al Qaeeda and many other dreadful militant organizations came into existence, JKLF had already wrought havoc in Kashmir and had even forced an entire Kashmiri Pandit population to flee their ancestral home land. I am sure India Today hasn't forgotten the connection between Yaseen Malik and JKLF.I know it is like showing candle to the sun, but I need to remind you about pending TADA cases against Malik. As an institution, which brought about a paradigm shift in the way Indians analyzed the socio-political events and as magazine that takes pride in tracking down its old covers whenever it does asimilar lead story, India Today can't have forgotten Malik's self admitted role in killing of four unarmed Indian Air Force personnel. It would also be aware of his role in Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping.In your introduction Malik has been described as championing the return ofdisplaced Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland. Nothing can be morepreposterous than this suggestion. I am sorry to state; India today has insulted the sensitivity of hundreds and thousands of displaced Kashmiri Pandits by crediting the man singularly responsible for their exodus as their sympathizer. Knowing the reputation of India Today in being strictly objective about its stories, I would have expected you to employ your own editorial principles while writing about Malik.I would once again credit you for assembling a group of real visionaries forthe forthcoming conclave. For them it is definitely an equal measure of honour to be addressing the conclave as the matter of prestige for you.
Given the amount of reputation and prestige enjoyed by India Today, yourparticipants would have blindly agreed to be the part of the event. By making them to share the stage with a person, who after Hitler, is perhapsthe biggest killer of humanity, India Today will be making the conclave all the more eventful for these modern day icons.Your distinguished guests are an admirable group of achievers, who have attained iconic stature through their principles, honesty and hard work.They are the real loadstars to who the future generations will look forinspiration, guidance and motivation. Posterity will remember them for theirimmense contribution towards humanity. They have excelled in theirrespective fields while playing the game fair and square. Al Gore, MukeshAmbani, Satguru Jagi, Sunil Mittal, Dr. Craig Venter and many others on your panel will be remembered by many generations for their contributions towardsmaking our world a better place to live in. These eminent people have alwayslet their concern for the society dictate their philosophy and actions. You have really pulled a coup by making these distinguished personalities share space with a person, who has exhibited a callous disregard for fellowcitizens by presiding over the forceful exodus of an entire community. And that too for the reasons of faith and religion.Mr. Purie, I don't occupy a pedestal from where I can demand your withdrawal of invitation to Yaseen Malik. I can only leave that to your discretion.But, I am sure my entire displaced Kashmiri Pandit community and majority ofIndians would feel insulted if Yaseen Malik is allowed to preach hishollowed principles and constructed ideology from the pedestals of the conclave. You may have your compulsions and external pressures in grantinghim such a privilege but please don't preach that Malik is concerned aboutthe return of Pandits to their homeland. Nothing can be more fallacious and derogatory than this.I feel the forthcoming India Today Conclave is test of credibility for yourinstitution. After all, it is you who has labeled a religious fundamentalist, a hardcore extremist and a perpetrator of genocide on an ethnic minority as a greatest leader. I don't understand if this is a weird joke or an indication of India Today's sense of judgment gone bizarre.Mr. Purie, as a patriotic Indian and as a small individual who has also contributed in making India Today what it is today, I demand an explanation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


When we first wrote a post requesting “The India Today Group” to rethink its decision of inviting Yasin Malik as a speaker to its Annual Conclave, it was out of hope that the group’s management would see reason.
We wrote 3 posts to this effect and hundreds of e-mails were sent to them requesting them to re-consider the decision. But alas! All of them seem to have fallen on deaf ears or blind eyes. No one seems to be interested in seeing reason or hearing out what has been documented by various journalists of repute including the India Today Group itself.

We had painstakingly collected all the evidence that’s there to show that Yasin Malik is a criminal, a third rate one .There is a no crime known to mankind that Yasin Malik has not been involved in. You name it and he has done it all…killings, kidnappings, hawala, gun running. He is the one who along with Shawkat Bakshi pumped bullets into the then Director of Doordarshan Lassa Kaul to silence the media once and for all. He and his JKLF goons are singularly responsible for the largest forced exodus of the modern history. Yet The India Today Group has gone ahead and invited him to be a speaker at its conclave. One can only feel sorry for the people who have taken this decision of inviting him.

Well, we can’t behave like Yasin Malik. Thankfully we don’t have it in us to kill people who don’t agree with us. We can’t kill unarmed innocent people and call it armed struggle. Call us meek, cowards or whatever you choose to. Civility may not be a virtue for people who kill or for the ones who play hosts to them, but we will stick to it. As responsible citizens and human beings we will however register our protest right outside the venue of the Conclave.For all those who wish to join us,here are the details

Main Entrance
The Taj Palace
Sardar Patel Marg

2.30 PM

Carry your guns Mr.Malik, be the man you are. Kill us too and India Today Group will give you some more airtime. You could next year be their “Man of the Year” or at-least make it to their list of most powerful people. After all not many in India have the distinction of killing so many as you have.

Kill us and our silence will speak.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Country roads take me home…

Parul, The Indian Express, Chandigarh
Thursday , March 06, 2008

The roots are intact, the distance and years notwithstanding. Hope floats, in spite of all odds. A fire burns within and the eyes look for light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Young and raring, a cause binds them and the Valley always beckons. For these student members of the Chandigarh Chapter of Roots In Kashmir (RIK), most of them Kashmiri Pandits themselves, telling the story of the pain of their people is not just a 'motive', but a responsibility. They strive to touch each other and tell the world what's not seen and heard. Roots In Kashmir is an initiative launched by the Kashmiri Pandit Youth, to retain the roots that identify them and which remain anchored in Kashmir and while the base is in Delhi, RIK has chapters in various cities of India. "Our cause is to highlight the atrocities and hardships faced by Kashmiri Pandits, for the common man does not know about the sad state of these people who have been hounded out of their homes and are refugees in their own country, living in miserable camps and conditions,'' Bhawick Jalali speaks for his friends, all students Panjab University. The students had recently staged a play on Kashmir, Trishna, one they had scripted themselves in just 15 days and which was directed by Ajit, who's pursuing PhD in theatre. At least, once a year they attempt to organize an event which would get the Kashmiri Pandits settled here together and in constant touch. " Now scattered in different parts of the country, we don't want to lose our culture, traditions, for we are still a community and theatre can go a long way in keeping it and the roots intact,'' Sahil Moza adds how it's their parents' only dream to be given recognition and a feeling of security back home. The play, through the story of four Kashmiri Pandit friends, three killed by militants depicted the face of the Valley before and after terrorism and ended on a positive note, that of return to peace. "The idea was not to create controversy, so we showed the affected and not those responsible for the tragedy,'' Shishank Wali, Shrawan, Shashank Koul, Sugandhi pitch in. RIK is not just a passing phase for these students, but a "responsibility to help people. We don't want sympathy, but empathy,'' they tell you with passion. To faith and fire…