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Vishal Bhardwaj”s ‘Haider’ Sent Chills Down My Spine, But For All The Wrong Reasons!

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By Manas Sen Gupta:

The talent of Vishal Bhardwaj is neither supererogatory, nor lilliputian. Being the only director in Bollywood, who has the ability to both man the camera, and play with notes (he is also a composer, in case you did not know), Vishal Bhardwaj deserves all the adulation he receives for his poetic filmmaking style. He is justifiably admired for his craftsman-like ability, to transform an anachronistic Shakespearean tragedy, into a critically acclaimed cinematic fare. It is, therefore, no surprise that his latest, Haider, is being hailed by critics, and moviegoers alike, and is being feted as a masterpiece, that unfailingly presents a contemporary take on one of the most evocative dramas of the Bard of AvonHamlet.

haider

But, just like Hamlet, Vishal Bhardwaj too, while making this film, was perhaps encountering the dizzying dilemma of the ‘Prince of Tragedy’ himself. Why would he otherwise set his characters in a background more complex than any other in the current Indian political scenario? Would it not have been better, if those very characters were set in a more identifiable, and comprehensible setting, such as the corporate world, or a political family? Why did Bhardwaj pick Kashmir, of all the places? And even if he did pick one of the world’s most politically sensitive regions, why did he choose to show only one side of the story?

At the time of writing this piece, Pakistan were busy launching mortars deep into the Indian territory in Kashmir, destroying homes and killing many, forcing the Indian army to retaliate. A few days before Haider’s release, Kashmir faced the most devastating natural disaster in its history, when floods took away more than 250 lives, and left many others homeless, for a prolonged period of time. The Indian armed forces intervened, saving many lives in the process. In both the cases — the shelling and the floods — it was the Indian Armed Forces that everyone turned to for help, and help they did. I do not think there is any need to eulogise, or emphasize the dauntlessness and abnegation of the soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces, who are ever ready to go beyond their powers to ensure the safety of the people in the valley. People who believe in the spirit of India’s armed forces know of their valour.

But into the first few minutes of Bhardwaj’s Haider, I felt that the Indian Army was being depicted as one of history’s vilest armies; a chilling sensation ran down my spine when I realised that the soldiers were sketched to resemble the troops of Nazi Germany in their conduct, and that the condition of Kashmiris were being equated to that of the Jews under Hitler’s reign. Perhaps it was only me who had such a feeling. Maybe I drew an inference too deep. Or maybe, Vishal Bhardwaj wanted us to see the political problem of Kashmir in the way he sees it.

Indeed, the situation in Kashmir is far from rosy; in fact, in the early ’90s — the period where the film is set — it was as rotten as the State of Denmark was, in Hamlet. But the volatile political situation in Kashmir was not a result of the presence of Indian Armed Forces, as you might deduce after watching Haider, but because of militancy. The Indian army was not the one that invaded Kashmir in the first place — it was Pakistan, in 1947. The Indian army did not throw out thousands of Kashmiri pandits from their ancestral homes — it was the militants, supported by certain local fundamentalist groups.

Haider would, however, make you believe that whatever is wrong in Kashmir is because of the constant presence of the Indian Armed Forces, backed by a ‘diabolical’ law known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The dialogues in the film have been carefully penned, so as not to deliberately offend the sensibilities of Indians, but the euphemism in every scene, and in every word, will not be lost on the discerning mind of a viewer. You will be visibly moved by the emotional scenes, where the characters are looking helplessly for their loved ones — picked up by the army, and cast in the list of ‘disappeared’.

In one scene, Kulbhushan Kharbanda’s character makes an allusive reference to Mahatma Gandhi, when telling a radical-thinking man, that ‘azadi’ cannot be won by the means of violence, but by peaceful methods. Gandhi fought the British Empire; so, is Bhardwaj comparing the Indian army to the British? The film also inanely remarks on the plebiscite, promised by Jawaharlal Nehru, and how “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled” — pointing at both India and Pakistan. Films containing dialogues that comment on serious political issues in a myopic manner, lend to the inception of a contorted discourse.

No referendum is possible in Kashmir, in the current circumstances, because of religious, ethnic and nationalistic reasons. If a plebiscite is granted now, there is no guarantee that the separatists of Kashmir will not inveigle the gullible people to side with Pakistan. That would be disastrous for India, not only politically, but symbolically as well, for it would mean that the sacrifices of the soldiers we lost over Kashmir, were for nought. Siding with the neighbour, would upset the action of Kashmir’s former ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, who, under his legitimate authority, decided to side with India, when Pakistan invaded Kashmir in 1947.

It is true, that Maharaja Hari Singh did not choose to accede to either India or Pakistan, at the time of partition. Both India and Pakistan were requested not to interfere with the administrative arrangements of J&K, and both agreed. Pakistan, however, betrayed and began infiltrating Kashmir, in late 1947, forcing Hari Singh to sign the Instrument of Accession with India, so that the Indian army could legally enter the region, to protect his people. What followed was a standoff that continues to this day.

It was, however, not war that created this troubled situation in the Valley; it was militancy, which peaked in the ’90s. It is because of militancy — which somehow, drew sections of the local populace to it — that the entire state is now under such a strict law. The AFSPA, imposed on Kashmir on July 5, 1990, is harsh, perhaps beyond measure, but its removal might mark the return of militancy of the late ’80s and ’90s. Of course, living under the shadow of the gun is not something anyone in any part of the world would want. This is not only torturous but, to an extent, undemocratic. I strongly believe that the people of Kashmir should have the same rights and freedom, as anyone else in any other part of India has. But, eminent people, such as Vishal Bhardwaj, and liberal intellectuals must understand, that the Indian Armed Forces are there to defend and maintain the security of a land over which four wars have been fought.

In one of the first scenes of the film, a terrorist is shown offering Namaz just before the soldiers blow his hideout. In another, a senior Kashmiri police official carries out a fake encounter. Such scenes would only strengthen the voices of separatists, who were silent when innocent Kashmiris were being gunned down by militants. In fact, the depiction of the Indian army in Haider will strengthen the anti-Indian forces in Pakistan, and all the fundamentalists in that country, who are always looking for excuses to convert impressionable minds to their satanic understanding of ‘Jihad’.

Haider tells us about the current situation in the Valley, but obfuscates many truths. The film points to the problem, but does not tell us why the problem arose in the first place, and neither does it offer any solution. In a world where an act of nationalism is dabbed with religious colours, and secularism is a political tool of exploitation, an apocryphal Haider is more confused than Hamlet was, in the Bard’s eponymous drama.

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  1. Aniruddha Wattal

    “… the Indian Armed Forces, who are ever ready to go beyond their powers to ensure the safety of the people in the valley.”

    For an article that condemns ‘obfuscation of facts’, this is quite rich. The army is well-known to abuse the powers bestowed upon it by the AFSPA. And that doesn’t make them any different from the militants themselves. Just because you wear fatigues while using terror to meet your ends, does not make you any less of a terrorist.

    Please, YKA, I expected better from you. The blind faith in the armed forces needs to end.

    1. Manas

      This article never states anything such as “obfuscation of facts”. The phrase used is “obfuscates many truths”; there is a difference.

  2. balayogi

    for a change some article from Youthki awaaz praising something about India,namely its army. Try to similarly see the good in India about India and from India and the good promoted, propagated and performed by its politicians, public and bureaucrats too rather than only making negative reporting based on your leftist indoctrinations. please come out of it and report impartially as you have done in this article

    1. Avinesh Saini

      Seems like you disapprove of most articles printed here.

  3. Razin

    The film highlights one side of the issue. AFSPA has not just ruined the life of Kashmiris but also Naga, Mizo and Manipuris.

    Referendum must be carried out. Even if it means giving Pakistan an equal ground. People of Kashmir should be allowed to choose their own future. The decision of Kashmir should not be taken in UN or Delhi, Islamabad, Lucknow, Lahore, Kolkata, Karachi or Mumbai. It should be taken in Srinagar, Jammu, Muzzaffarabad and Mirpur.

    They know best. India can provide them with better Education, Healthcare, Tourism, Electricity, Transportation, Communication, Talent utilization, Stability and Socio – religious freedom.

    Self determination is the answer. Scotland did it and solved the age old dilemma.

    As far as the plight of the Kashmiri Brahmins is concerned.. Only another film of similar stature, quality and competence can showcase it.
    A book is answer to a book. A movie is answer to another movie. Boycott, protests and violence will only hinder the process of understanding and exchanges.

  4. Gaurav

    excellent article. more research needs to be done in regards to such film makers and others who believe that by demonising indian army they can mollycodle the terrorists or show that they are intellectual

  5. Vikram

    This article is as one-sided as the story shown in the movie. The plebiscite was promised in 1947 as part of the treat signed with Hari Singh. if you want to claim Kashmir to be part of India because of that treaty, then accept that India failed in fulfilling that treaty. The rebellion started in 1989 after a completely corrupt election, so as a country we never played fair and that allowed outsiders to come in.
    Again, even though the issue was stoked by Pakistan, the fact is that disappearance of people and the tortures are realities, same as it was in Punjab and is in every part where AFSPA is applied. All I take away from this article is that you are so unsure about India, that any time anyone says India made a mistake, you need it to be shown that India did good as well. All I took away from the movie was that we made mistakes and we need to correct those.

    1. anshu

      absolutely !! there is no denying of what AFSPA did to the women and children of kashmir. clearly the author hasnt researched enough about it. Extreamly biased article…am glad this article wont be made into a movie.

    2. Manas

      I am sorry for not “researching” enough. I think you would have been pleased had I junked pages after pages of India’s history after 1947; ignored the sacrifices of our armed forces; and overlooked the ‘cliched’ subject of militancy. But, where in the article did I vociferously support the imposition of AFSPA? All that I have conveyed is that the movie is one-sided. Don’t I have the right to say that?

  6. Adil

    Pathetic article without any realistic basis. The author is completely unaware of the situation in Kashmir.

  7. Manav Kukreja

    That 1989 rebellion was by people India calls Indians, but the people were trained and backed by a neighbouring state. That is how powerful the rebellion was. Haider shows you how the Indian army saved the Kashmiri territory. As for the Kashmiri people, India had lost them anyway. It is these people, the Kashmiris, that the Indian security forces turned against each other.

    The army way:

    The enemy in Kashmir were and are Kashmiris, people we call Indians. If the army is to be deployed to save Srinagar for India from the city’s own residents, it can’t serve arrest warrants. That is why the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is to be used to suspend the Indian Constitution’s guarantee of the right to life. That’s as good as suspending the Constitution.

    No popular rebellion in the world has been suppressed without human rights excesses. When two sides have guns, it’s a war. Human rights excesses, or any kind of violence for that matter, are only a symptom of war. The real problem is political. Politicians only worsen the situation by leaving it to the security forces.

    Haider is not the first Bollywood film to show army excesses in Kashmir. Rahul Dholakia’s film Lamhaa did so in 2010. If Vishal Bharadwaj really wanted to show the Indian army in a bad light, he could have shown corruption by the army in dealing with militants, as Lamhaa did. A number of books and documentary films have been far more critical of the army’s role. Haider even ends with a note saluting the army’s role in rescuing people in the Kashmir floods.

    Haider has its moments but in the end it is a sloppily made, forgettable Bollywood film with action, comedy, suspense, sex, romance and everything thrown in like a roll call. There’s even some dancing around the trees. The filmmakers seemed to have put it out much in advance that it would be controversial, and the Twitter hyper-nationalists seem to be falling in their publicity trap.

    Haider ends like most Bollywood action films do: (almost) everybody dies. That’s what the Kashmir conflict is like. That is also what life is like.

  8. Anu

    The only thing which is a little appreciable about this article is the writer’s vocabulary.
    No one disagrees to the great services done by our army and we are very proud of them. But any group always has its shades of gray. Why was it necessary for Haider to tell everything, how the problem started, how the solution should be reached? Do you question how the 200/300 Cr moronic so called super hit movies defy the laws of Physics and challenge even the basic common sense?

    Haider told a story of a man in the backdrop of Kashmir. That was it. It was not a history lesson and neither should be viewed as one too. How can you claim to know all the truth about what happened in Kashmir? Just because few wrong things were done, and those did happen, does not make the Indian Army a villain. Haider gives credit to them in the end, whose importance you conveniently thought to overlook. Haider is a beautiful work of craft, with people actually acting in it. The only thing I am sad about is the stupid Bang Bang is earning crores while good movies are not appreciated. Food for thought…

  9. jayati varma

    Author, you have got it all wrong. First of all to set the facts right, the movie is set in the 90s and not the present time. Its a mere coincidence Kashmir had to face such catastrophic floods before the film was to release. Haider is about the predicaments of the Kashmiris who are ragged in between the continuous struggle of the militants and the army. Its about the people who do not have the right to a normal life. Its about young boys and girls who live in constant terror of being separated from their family. It shows how fragile and vulnerable this strife has made the people.
    No one is denying the shield of AFSPA in Kashmir, but have you forgotten the rapes and assaults against women that have occurred during crackdowns, cordon and search operations, Irom Sharmila’s long protest in Manipur or the 2004 rape of a 12-year old minor by an AFSPA army major in Kashmir. There are many shades of black!

  10. Gaurav

    http://www.indiafacts.co.in/haider-wrapping-national-insults-celluloid/#.VEtwb-cYEzV

    excellent article for all those who wish to understand haider and vishal bhardwaj

  11. youthki real awaz

    First of all why do we Indians need to understand our political system and chaos through films. We want learn our traditions through films, our culture through films our morals through films, then why the “F” we have schools books and news papers.
    If I am a director I would take Kashmir as the back-drop because it matches with chaotic and un-halcyonic society of that in Hamlet. And there are lot of benefits in cinematography too if you shoot in Kashmir
    Films are work of fiction. Are our beliefs so tender that a film can change it.
    Haider is a fictional character, just enjoy the film for gods sake. Films are only for entertainment, if you are going to a theatre for lessons of life or history then you are at a wrong place.
    The films shows how Haider views the things in Kashmir and not how every kashmiri views it.
    The disclaimer says it is a work of a fiction!!!
    And I am not a kashmiri , I am a SOuth INdian who went to theatre to enjoy a movie thts it ,
    Please dont try ban every other movie that comes out from Black friday to fana to Jodha Akbar to Haider and complain that we dont make thought provoking movies
    And I liked Bang-Bang too[I am Hrithik’s die-hard fan and I hate Shahid, a good movie is a good movie regardless of my biases]

    1. mullah sodome

      where were u when jayalalitha tried to ban vishwaroopam of kamal hassan he was also portraying the true colours of some antinational indian muslims

  12. Gulshan Madhur

    Very well written and points well taken. I had similar feelings like you after watching the film.
    @youth ki awaaz
    As though it’s a work of fiction but most of the people watching the movie will make a mistake and carry the wrong message home. Undoubtedly it’s a good movie but potrays Indian govt and Indian army in a bad way which is wrong.

  13. shubham jain

    I think movie was not biased. It is upto the viewer what they understand. May be roohdaar was right about haiders father or may be not.

  14. Gaurav

    Vishal Bhardwaj’s film “Haider” is partially art in the thrall of the most hateful ideology of mankind -Leftism. While the film does serve beauty in a way, the beauty part is borrowed from both Shakespeare’s magnum opus ‘Hamlet’ as well as the beauty of the Kashmir valley. The film possesses a well concealed sense of anathema against the truth.

    Haider is more Basharat Peer’s ‘Curfewed Nights’ than Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. In two separate interviews to ‘The Hindu’ and ‘Times of India’, Vishal Bhardwaj has made the following statements : “I’m not anti-national, but I will comment on what is anti-human” and ” If I am not a leftist, I am not an artist”.

    These statements give a general outlook of Bhardwaj’s politics and worldview. It is also clear from his interviews that he did not know much about Kashmir before making this film, so Basharat Peer and Peer’s book was his lens into Kashmir. In that sense, Bhardwaj’s independent views on Kashmir are no more important than that of an occasional foreign tourist to Kashmir before whom an uninterrupted picture of victimization is painted by resident Kashmiris, because the other side of the story (the heartrending plight of Kashmiri Pandits) is not present to debunk the lies.

    Interestingly, in Bhardwaj’s earlier movie “Matru ki Bijli ka Mandola,” a 45-crore big budget Bollywood film with popular stars, the lead hero is a JNU product who in his alter-ego as the emancipator of the poor farmers is a superhero-like figure with the name ‘Mao’! This more than anything else shows the degree of comradeship Bhardwaj is affixed to in the domain of leftism, glorifying a mass murderer like Mao. It should have caused outrage in India, unfortunately it didn’t, perhaps because like every radical, subversive leftist thought, it was cloaked in too much distraction. Besides that, the film had multiple allusions to the usual objects of leftist rhetoric and jargon. One wonders why Bhardwaj did not chose to make his fashionable statement on the relation between his allegiance to leftist ideals and his art when it would have been apt for him to do so considering that the film had those themes. Also, it was an original film by Bhardwaj. The answer is simple – a 45-crore film cannot afford to alienate its audience and even the staunchest of leftist-artist souls have to bow to the market and moolah.

  15. Gaurav

    there are a few remarkable scenes which reveal its maker’s point of view. In one of the early scenes of Haider’s arrival in Kashmir, he is detained by the Army for calling Anantnag as Islamabad and is later let off after being reminded that there is only one Islamabad. There is a cursory reference by an Army officer on Kashmiri Pandits and also the abandoned house of a Pandit being used to hide the ‘disappeared’ and to kill them later, which is all that Bhardwaj mentions about Pandits of the valley.

    The symbolism that Bhardwaj paints is pure propaganda because all the agents of the Indian state or individuals depicted as having favourable disposition or contact with India/Indian Army like Haider’s uncle Khurram who is an advocate and later MLA. Haider’s fiancé’s father Pervez Lone, who is a senior official of the Police, the actors playing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who are Haider’s childhood friends and to an extent even Haider’s mother Ghazala are all depicted as being deceitful and cunning.

    Vishal Bhardwaj’s portrayal of them is a little better than two-faced Januses, thereby casting them in the leftist mould. Only Haider’s father Hilal who treats a wounded terrorist at home is shown as being a compassionate Kashmiri who ‘disappears’ while Haider’s grandfather is seen as a man who wants Kashmiris to achieve independence, but through Gandhian means! These are the only two personas in the film that Vishal Bhardwaj wants people to see as emblematic of good Kashmiri and Kashmiriyat.

  16. Gaurav

    The high point of the film is a monologue by Haider in where he reads the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) before an amused audience and then utters the following lines in a state of borderline lunacy “India Pakistan ne milkar; khela hamarey saath border-border, Ab na humey chhodey Hindustan; Ab na humey chhodey Pakistan, Arrey koi hum se bhi poochey; hum kya chahtey; ‘AZAADI’ “.

    The Azaadi slogan is something whose relevance should have been clear to Bhardwaj before he chose to film it in such a nonchalant and pedestrian manner. The word Azaadi carries a barbaric and horrendous context from the forced exodus of Pandits in 1989 which even if Bhardwaj wants to, cannot choose to ignore. It is not as if Bhardwaj is ignorant of facts.

    Vithal Chowdhary on ‘Youth for Panun Kashmir’ blog says that Bhardwaj met him near Chakrishwar Temple at Hari Parbat in Kashmir, heard the stories of Pandits and assured them that their stories will find a place in his film. So what exactly did Bhardwaj want to retain about the Pandits in that movie which his fellow scriptwriter Basharat Peer did not want? Or perhaps both omitted the mention of Pandits deliberately? Since none of them is willing to make their responses public, their silence must be construed as an admission of ideological bias.

  17. Gaurav

    History has always been the blind spot of leftists and Kashmiri separatists, which is why the action begins in 1995 and not before. Bhardwaj with this film has blindly and blatantly toed the line of the separatists to the extent that he tries to evoke audience sympathy for the terrorist as a ‘freedom fighter’. How does Bhardwaj explain the fact that his heroes, the ordinary Kashmiri Muslims who today claim that both India and Pakistan betrayed them, were shouting “Asi gacchei Pakistan, battaw rostiy; battaneo saan” [We want Pakistan, without Pandit men; with Pandit women] in 1989-90 while cleansing the valley of its 5000 year old native civilization of Kashmiri Pandits? When the choice for Kashmiris was ‘crystal clear’ for Pakistan in 1989, why doesn’t Haider, who is going across the border, reveal his love for Pakistan openly in 1995?

    Maybe Vishal Bhardwaj could ask some of the separatist sympathizers and his research subjects where they see the future once they become ‘Azaad’ – Shariah or Democracy? Most importantly, Bhardwaj should know that the persecution of Hindus and Buddhists in Kashmir is a bloody chapter in history which even the mightiest of brave heart storytellers will feel shaky to adapt to celluloid. The persecution was such that there were only 11 families of Pandits left in Kashmir at one point and they had to stay alive by spending their days incognito in villages. Or the fact that there was an infamous spot in Dal Lake called ‘Bat Mazar’ [ Graveyard of Pandits] where Hindus who refused to convert were physically tortured, put into sacks and drowned, and their womenfolk were paraded naked to be humiliated even as they were grieving.

    Let’s leave the innumerable events of history of centuries aside. In 1979, Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister was addressing a rally in Iqbal Park, Srinagar where the crowd of Kashmiris stripped themselves, waved their genitals and performed other unmentionable acts without any fear of the sovereignty of law or sense of dignity. That such people would claim victimhood at the altar of the Indian state in mere decade is one of the miracles of the 20th century.

    There is a lot of spiel in Haider about AFSPA where he tries to rhyme it with ‘chutzpah’ in the monologue; one wonders when they are pushing artistic limits on AFSPA. But what stops Bhardwaj and Peer from mentioning Article 370? The last commercial film on Kashmir was in 2010 by Rahul Dholakia named ‘Lamhaa’. That film was sympathetic to the cause of Kashmiri Muslims in the post-1990 scenario. It clearly identified the separatists as the root cause of the problems in Kashmir. This was reason enough for Syed Ali Shah Geelani to ban the film in Kashmir.

    In fact, cinema halls were closed in Kashmir owing to the diktats of separatists, the Grand Mufti and other assorted torchbearers of Islamism. However, after watching Haider, the same Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that he plans to reopen cinema halls in Kashmir if more films like Haider are made.

  18. Gaurav

    There must be a clause for ‘conditional’ and ‘suitable’ Freedom of Expression in the books of Islamists and their leftist apologists everywhere. Even if that is brushed aside as an aberration, what explains the fact that the leftists and liberals, lovers of free speech et al ganged up and got the 2011 ‘Harud’ literature fest in Kashmir cancelled because it would give the idea, that Kashmir was peaceful and free? Their separatist cousins and associated ilk banned music, cinema and everything unacceptable to their twisted sense of morality—from a fatwa by the Grand Mufti against the all-girl band ‘Pragaash’ to covertly removing Rahul Pandita’s book ‘Our Moon has Blood Clots’ from bookshops in Kashmir.

    That unfurling the Indian tricolour is not acceptable in Kashmir is an affront that all Indians have been tolerating since the time of Syama Prasad Mookerjee. The closest analogy to the behavior of separatists is that of Neo-Nazi holocaust deniers who have persistently tried to erase the history of Kashmiri Pandits after 1989-90.

    pandita book

    I want to ask Vishal Bhardwaj that given his cinematic insistence on ‘let there be peace in the valley’, does peace have any room for Kashmiri Pandits? If it has, with what guarantee should Kashmiri Pandits return when all the houses they owned were purchased on various pretexts by the Muslims at dirt cheap rates knowing fully well that the exodus has robbed the Pandits of everything and they would need money badly. With what cheek does Vishal Bhardwaj paint the separatists as victims? Even if some injustice has been done to them, surely Bhardwaj should know about conflict zones like Kashmir and how things operate there. And in this case, the people he is painting as victims were the first aggressors and marauders.

    There is also a song and dance sequence on the celebration of Ghazala, and Khurram’s wedding has been filmed in the ruins of the Martand temple which may have been a good location for shooting but it has only rubbed salt on the wounds of Kashmiri Pandits. It took the Islamic zealot Sultan Sikandar Butshikan one year to break and desecrate the majestic temple, and just a few days for Vishal Bhardwaj to film it in a vaudevillian manner. It is pertinent to ask Vishal Bhardwaj and his co-writer Peer, how the celebration of an Islamic wedding is being held in a Hindu temple? More so, the ruins of a temple destroyed by a genocidal mass-murderer who gave options to Pandits they were to get again and again till the last one in 1989-90—exactly the same the Yezidis are getting now from ISIS—convert, flee or die. A Sultan whose rule in Kashmir was unparalleled in brutality and oppression of the Pandits. A barbarian who burnt about 300 Kgs of sacred thread of Kashmiri Hindus as a celebration of his brutality over Kaffirs.

    bismil

    If Bhardwaj’s leftism does not behove him to mourn the temple and other ruins and the plight of Pandits, the least he can do is to refrain from making a mockery of their genocide.

    As a matter of fact, there have been over 600 temples destroyed and vandalised in Kashmir. Even the official government figures place the number conservatively at about 300 temples. But Vishal Bhardwaj would not have filmed his song and dance in a studio or outside Charar-e-Sharief or Hazratbal mosque. The reasons for which are understandable at large. The least one could have expected of Bhardwaj was that he could have respected the sanctum-sanctorum by not shooting the dancers with their footwear on. Alas, to expect dignity for Hindu sentiments and shrines from leftist ideologues is a huge exercise in futility.

    Frankly speaking, if there is an element that defines the resident Kashmiri Muslim and his ‘Kashmiriyat’ which he waves at India just like he waved his genitals it is one word: hypocrisy. He will cry hoarse about removing AFSPA but will complain should there be a talk of withdrawing article 370. Has anyone ever noticed Kashmiri Muslims criticizing Pakistan that it should talk to India and stop terror activities and pressing it for the demands that it troubles India with? The demands, the funds everything except Islam should come from India but should Indians chose to unfurl the tricolour there, they are unwelcome.

  19. Kashmiri

    Mr. Author, there is an age old saying “Little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. The saying perfectly fits you in terms of your knowledge about the ground realities of Kashmir 🙂

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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