Kashmir movie triggers new controversy

Andrew Buncombe

Inshallah Kashmir low res poster 213x300 Kashmir movie triggers new controversy

Indian filmmaker Ashvin Kumar is used to controversy. His previous documentary, Inshallah Football, about the conflict in Kashmir and its lingering ramifications, was refused a certificate by the censors. With the launch of his latest film, Inshallah Kashmir:Living Terror, he has sought to avoid that problem by putting the film directly online.

Kumar uploaded his film on January 26th – India’s Republic Day – and by early this afternoon, it had already been viewed 25,000 times. “There were two agendas for putting it online,” he told me. “One was to get around the censor board. Secondly, and more importantly, I wanted to make it truly democratic so that people would not have to pay to watch it.”

He added: “A blind-spot has been created in the Indian political mind…some sort of barrier fuelled by government propaganda. I wanted to put across a bunch of people talking about their own problems and see if they could not connect by avoiding the government clutter – a sort of people to people thing.”

I think Kumar, who received an Oscar nomination for one of his earlier films, has done a largely impressive job in telling a difficult story, trying to explain how and why Kashmir’s separatist insurgency was created, the violence it led to and the devastating response of the state that has created a situation whereby the Kashmir valley is one of the most heavily-militarised places on the planet, where mental health issues are soaring and where a sense of helplessness pervades. (His film may also have the unintended impact of boosting tourism numbers; Kashmir has utterly mesmersing landscape and the documentary captures that.)

Kumar has spoken to many of the major players in Kashmir’s recent history, including the current chief minister Omar Abdullah, the former Kashmir administrator Wajahat Habibullah, the activist Parveena Ahangar, who has struggled for more than two decades to raise attention to the hundreds and perhaps thousands of people “missing” at the hands of the state, or else the insurgents.

Of course, no project about Kashmir can ever be completed without creating controversy and Kumar’s film has already sparked heated debate, though Kumar said he believed that the response from people inside Kashmir had been largely positive.

Some of the criticism relates to one of the most controversial and tragic episodes of India’s recent history – the exile of the minority Hindu or Pandit population, who fled the valley from 1990 onwards as the insurgency took hold. From a population of around 400,000, perhaps just 4,000 Hindus remain today.

Kumar’s film certainly addresses the Pandit episode. He talks about how, after an incident in which 50 Muslims were killed by troops and the blame was heaped on the Hindus, the majority community set about harassing the Pandits, ordering them to leave the valley and attacking and killing them.

Among Kumar’s most vociferous critics on this aspect of the film is Rahul Pandita, a writer and journalist from a Pandit background, who took to Twitter to denounce parts of the documentary, saying that attacks on Hindus predated the armed forces’ shooting of Muslims at Gawkadal.

He also took objection to comments made by Wajahat Habibullah, who told Kumar: “I don’t think it was necessary for [the Pandits] to leave.” [I personally interpreted that to mean that it "ought not to have been necessary" for the Pandits to leave.] In an email, an admittedly furious Pandita, who is currently working on a memoir on Kashmir, said: “It boils my blood to see, time and again, how the circumstances leading to the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits are skewed. In this documentary as well, same thing happens: as if KPs were targetted only after the Gawakadal massacre of January 21, 1990. The fact is that the hunting and killing of Kashmir’s minority community had begun much before. It was long before that we had become the Tutsis of Kashmir.”

The best thing is to judge the film for yourself. Thanks to the generosity of Kumar, you can see it here:

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  • Amit_IND

    I doubt those political people who boost of starting the violence & institutionalizing the orchestrated violence first the & then when it finds the ruthless opposite force from state agencies & other actors is this element considered that what will be the repercussions on the society as a whole when they start the voilence, or to simple refer to it as collateral damage.
     And although we people in sub-continent boost of being attained freedom from British but the fact is it we the people in erstwhile India of 1947 only killed each other in millions & there are no exceptions, people from all religions were responsible for the massacre of the each other. We hollow-minded people of sub-continent blame British for imperialism and having attained freedom from , but we do not look under our collars that how many millions we killed each other in freedom, how women were raped, children rendered home-less, people were forced to leave their lands in 1947. Are we civilized that way, no in fact worst then the Satan, he will be ashamed. We blame Americans & West they are the Barbarians but what about the barbarianism we the people in sub-continent resorted to each other in 1947. Hippocrates we the people of Sub-continent are?
     Coming to our State in J&K in 1947 the valley was insulated against the violence, but all the regions were not insulated & Jammu Region was most affected area in 1947. In 1947 when Gandhi visited Kashmir he said, “He saw the ray of hope in Kashmir” this is 50% true, 50% wrong. Why? Because in 1947 there was large scale massacres in J&K, in which humans from all religions were killed which included, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs & others more particularly in Jammu region. Now coming to 50% where Gandhi ji was right, in the valley itself people stood by each other, in today’s bloodshed and politics, you may politically murder NC thousand times on paper , but credit in those crucial days will have to be given to them & people in particular in Valley who stood by each other and mind you In Valley NC was active and in the Jammu region Muslim conference was active & to tell you one more revealing fact many of the Muslim Conference cadres were responsible for murder of Non-Muslims.  And for this those persons of Muslim conference that rule in POK now were responsible, and some of them claim to be now the Mujahid-i.awwal, but the fact is they should be tried for war crimes
    You can read & watch what happened to Hindus in J&K in 1947 in other parts of J&K (Mirpur, Muzzafarabad, Rajouri Etc) read your-self in following Links:
     We know starting at Muzzafarbad on 22nd & 23rd Oct-1947, several thousand Hindus (three times than that of Muslims) were slaughtered at the hands of Pakistani Raiders, its army, their J&K civilian traitors in the border areas of Kashmir when they entered the Valley and then in Jammu Province at Deva vatala, Bhimber, Rajauri, Kotli, Mirpur, Poonch and at Gilgit, Askardu. In the third week of Nov -1947 (24th Nov 1947) large scale massacre of Non-Muslims took place in Mirpur, in second week of Nov 1947 (13th & 14Th Nov) large scale massacres took place in Rajouri. In first week of Nov.1947 large scale massacres of Muslims took place in Jammu.
    I do not know how many of people in valley will be knowing this. Col. Habibur Rahman Khan who had fought with Subhash Chander Bose in INA went to Pakistan & He became the murderer of Non Muslims at Bhimber along with tribal lashkars. He died in pain. Listen about brutal burning of Rajouri where 25000 people were burnt to death during Diwali of 1947 & I do not know you know it or not Hindus in rajouri today do not celebrate Diwali even today in memory of those massacred in 1947.  Col. Rahamtullah Khan was one time in army of Hari Singh, his son Aslambeg Khan are called Rajouri butchers, & were instrumental in all this loot when they joined Pakistani Army & Raiders. Even uncivilized people like Huleghu Khan allowed to bury dead, but this was a strange Islamic army of tribal looters did not.
     How many people were butchered by Pakistani & Tribal Lashkars at Mirpur at Alibag Gurudwara later turned to concentration camp in Nov 1947 & how many Hindus Sikhs were killed there? men were slaughtered, women raped & children sold. I hope you meet some day the persons who have settled in Jammu from Mirpur, from Muzzafarabad, from Poonch, Rajouri, & and listen to them how their and near ones were butchered in these areas and by whom and who connived with whom in this massacre? You will be more objective later. Just to tell him Non Muslim women abducted from J&K by Tribal’s were sold on the streets of NWFP for Rs 15.00 & the children for Rs 5.00, I do not know you know this or not ?
    HOW IS POK  100% MUSLIM TODAY, it is all understood by we the people living in Parts of Jammu, Valley people may not be knowing these facts, AZAD JAMMU &KASHMIR they call it, Azadi from whom? Kill all people?
    Now why this background, it is precisely because the same planks of institution of orchestrated Violence & the institution of political separatism based on the basis of religion again being used again & again in 1947 it was Jammu Region we bore the brunt of violence & it’s after effects, & from 1990 onwards it is mostly valley. And that is why I said is it those people who perpetuate this violence,  do they have an idea what devastating effect this violence will have on the society?

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