(DISCLAIMER: This article is not meant to against any particular community, instead it supports the plight of a particular community)
The recent blockbuster, My Name Is Khan aptly depicts the plight of Asian Muslims who are treated rather shabbily in western countries. Other movies like Kurbaan, Shaurya, Dev and a dozen more movies with similar social message have been churned out by the great Hindi film industry. Folks, thank you for taking up the cause of the innocent Muslims.
But one thing that surprises me is why our films have been so reluctant to portray the plight of Kashmiri Pandits who were driven out of their homes in the 90’s and the government is yet to do anything to bring them back to their homeland – to Kashmir? Unofficial estimates (which are usually inflated) put the number of minorities killed in Gujarat riots at a maximum of a few thousands. Official estimates (which are always subdued) put the number of displaced pandits at around a few lacs. The people who were the flag bearers of kashmiri culture and traditions for centuries are now living in relief camps in different parts of the country. The most disturbing thing is that this is happening to the citizens of an independent country in their own nation and not in some far away American society.
Atrocities On Kashmiri Pandits:
Educational Institutions burnt, damaged forcefully occupied : 105
Religious & Cultural Institutions Destroyed/burnt, damaged (Temples/Ashrams/Dharamshalas) : 103
Business houses destablised (Including shops looted/burnt, factories looted/burnt, occupied) : 14,430
Agriculture dependent families deprived of their land and source of income : 20,000
Horticulture dependent families deprived of their resource : 12,500
Houses Burnt : more than 20,000
Houses looted : 95%
Torture killings of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley : more than 1,100
After The Exodus
* More than 5000 people have died in camps and elsewhere after their forced exodus from the valley. They died of
o Sunstrokes (more than 1000) as most of them were used to cold climate of Kashmir and could not acclimatize to extremely hot temperatures in rest of India.
o Heart attacks and accidents which have been mainly attributed to extreme psychological trauma and mental pressures by the doctors.
o Gastroenteritis and typhoid epidemics, snake bites etc.
* The cohesiveness of the displaced families has broken as they were to undergo Diaspora for finding livelihood in various parts of country.
* Cultural Dilution – The whole displaced community with a distinct culture is facing the threat of extinction after losing its natural habitat.
The apathy of the government and human rights organisations bigotry is a well known fact in this country. But a powerful and independent medium like cinema has also kept away from this painful issue. Barring one movie (Sheen),which incidentally was directed by a Kashmiri pandit, the Johars, Khans and Chopras of our film industry have stayed away from this pricky topic. Maybe documenting the pundits will brand them as anti-muslim or anti-dalit, maybe just like most of us, they are ignorant of the plight of this community. But the most probable cause for this “intellectual apathy” might as well be MONEY. A New York or MNIK might get a robust opening in Middle east and neighbouring countries, but a movie on pundits might not be allowed to release in most of such places as it can harm the ideology of “Azaad Kashmir” and the ongoing “freedom struggle” there.
Many film makers care a dime about the persecution of Muslims or pundits. Money matters big time in tinsel town. Gods change name and people change religion at a glimpse of dollars and dinars. Fashion and trends always change. Someday, Kashmir pundits will become the eye candy of U.N, Amnesty, and the corporates. That day someone will surely make “My name is Pandit and I am a REFUGEE”.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.