New Delhi—Hate mainstreamed, truth overlapped, and pain politicized. This sums up Vivek Agnihotri’s `The Kashmir Files’.

`The Kashmir Files’ is a movie that serves as a propaganda tool for `Sang Parivar’ to mainstream anti-Muslim hate. If abrogation of Article 370 was a watershed moment for BJP and its Parivar, `The Kashmir Files’ has provided enough oxygen to consolidate the gains.

Before the general elections in 2024, Sangh has got enough oxygen to polarize and win the third term. Opposition is either dead or playing soft-Hindutva to cash in on majoritarianism vote-bank politics.

Coming back to Kashmiri Pandits (KPs), undoubtedly, they have suffered. For 32 years, they have been living like refugees in their own land. When militancy started in Kashmir, KPs fled to Jammu in the dead of night to escape the bullets and bombs. They lived in camps in Jammu and Delhi before beginning their lives afresh. Over the years, the exodus of Kashmir Pandits has been captured on celluloid with different twists. For example, movies like `Sheen’, `Shikara’, `I am’ and others. Bollywood right-wing producers have been peddling hate and propaganda against Kashmir Muslims for a long.

`The Kashmir Files’, however, stands out. It has taken hate and propaganda to the next level. Riding on the piggyback of the state, the film is likely to enter the Rs 100 crore club. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, every politician in the ruling coalition has been showering praises on the film.

What is disturbing are open calls for Muslim genocide when one sees videos coming from theatres? Indian audience is being served half-truths on a platter. It is being said that only KPs suffered in 32 years of militancy. Ministry of Home Affairs figures reveals more than 40,000 people, including 22,000 militants and 5,055 security personnel, have been killed from 1990 to March 31, 2017.

In the 2017 RTI reply, the chief public information officer of the union home ministry said 13,491 civilians and 5,055 security force personnel were killed in different terror attacks. The security forces have also neutralized around 21,965 terrorists in the last 27 years. Nearly 13,502 soldiers have also been injured while fighting with the terrorists.

‘The Kashmir Files’ tried to project that a savage genocide was unleashed against Kashmiri Pandits. But, if home ministry figures are taken on face value, though they are grossly understated, most of the victims are Kashmiri Muslims.

A study conducted by Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), an apex body of non-migrant Pandits in 2011, revealed that 399 pandits were killed in Kashmir from 1990 to 2010. The number is much higher than the government’s figures of 219 pandits killed. Other pandit groups have claimed that more than 1500 Hindus were killed in Kashmir from 1989 to 1991, triggering migration.

`The Kashmir Files’ has tried to dub Kashmiri Muslims as monsters. JNU has been dubbed as the hub of anti-nationals. Krishna (Darshan Kumar), a Kashmiri Pandit and student, has been brainwashed by a university teacher Radhika Menon (Pallavi Joshi), into believing that the secessionist movement in Kashmir is akin to India’s Freedom Movement. Radhika’s character is fashioned on a famous writer who supports Kashmir’s struggle.

The film starts with hate and abuses in Kashmiri. Muslims are beating up a Kashmiri pandit boy who chants Sachin Tendulkar. Muslims have been projected as demons who use cussword invectives. When Krishna’s grandfather Pushkar Nath (Anupam Kher) dies, he visits Kashmir to immerse the ashes. He meets four of his grandfather’s friends who reveal the ‘real’ story of Kashmir to Krishna.

The film has peddled a narrative that is a half-truth. VP Singh was the prime minister, and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the home minister in 1990. Singh-led National Front was supported by BJP, which had 80 MPs in the House. Farooq Abdullah had resigned, and centre had appointed Jagmohan as governor to crush militancy. The same BJP which loathes National Conference was goodie-goodie with it when the party supported the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Even Omar Abdullah was a junior foreign minister in the Vajpayee government.

During the 2002 Gujarat riots, Omar stayed in the Vajpayee’s cabinet when even Ram Vilas Paswan resigned in protest. But now, the same National Conference is anti-national. Congress was nowhere in sight in 1990. Then, its leader Rajiv Gandhi was facing the Bofors probe.

Yet Agnihotri makes people believe it was Congress in power. Article 370, too, was incorporated.

It was not only Kashmiri Pandits who fled the valley. Even Muslims and Sikhs have also migrated. The entire National Conference leadership was living like refugees in Jammu. Even former minister Wali Mohammad Itto was killed outside a mosque in Jammu after migrating from the valley. Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu, and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims, and 1,758 Sikhs.

Pain has no religion. Suffering has no father. Both Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits suffered. To cite a few examples, the Gow Kadal massacre, Kanun Poshpora mass rape, and Sopore inferno are still afresh. And the victims were Kashmir Muslims.

Yet, no one in Bollywood will have the courage to show the human rights violations. Nearly 8000 Kashmiris are missing in custody. Is there anyone who will make a movie on it? Jails are filled, and UAPA is being slapped randomly. Families of politicians, even those who have died, are languishing in jails. Democracy has shut its door on Kashmiri Muslims. Yet, no one will highlight their plight because that will not fetch them votes.

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