The Kashmiri Hindu community has been dispersed across India and the world, unable to return to their ancestral roots, their homes, their temples, or even their leaders. Many survivors of the Holocaust have died or become too ill to testify since justice has been withheld for more than 30 years. Furthermore, telling our tale isn’t simple. Our Moon Has Blood Clots and other novels have attempted to chronicle a multi-century narrative of persecution and survival.
There is nothing better than going to the movies with friends, escaping into a fantastical universe and immersing myself into an exciting alternative reality. As the premiere of The Kashmir Files, a documentary about Kashmiri Hindus who were expelled from their homeland in 1990, aired, I was overcome with emotion. As directed by Vivek Agnihotri and Pallavi Joshi, and brought to life by a larger team for four years, the film represented my deep grief in a manner that few movies have. During this week, when we commemorate the dreadful 32nd anniversary of our family’s exile, I feel obligated to tell my story so that others may benefit from it as well.
Apprehensive going into the film about how the directors would condense all of the important content into a three-hour running time. Audiences would find the film tedious if it focused solely on statistics. As long as our community’s plight goes unrecognized by the media and academia for the past three decades, how can it be properly addressed? If this movie turns out to be another Shikara or a clichéd Bollywood film romanticizing our genocide, I’ll be very disappointed. I remember thinking that.
Some people believe that I’ve been socialized to be negative. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an outspoken advocate for the cause. The Kashmiri Hindu community’s voice has been consistently silenced for the past 32 years. Our ability to make our voices heard has been difficult due to the fact that our sheer presence undermines many mainstream narratives. My family and I have talked about our difficulties on a regular basis — through letters to various government authorities, pleas for assistance, congressional hearings, newspaper submissions, and other means. We have done our best, but few people have listened to what we have to say. However, it is possible that the tide is finally turning!
In the wake of watching the film, I have a renewed sense of hope that justice for my community is finally being served! I had high expectations for The Kashmir Files, but they were beyond exceeded. The genuine emotion and pain of the victims, as well as the other crimes that took place, were successfully depicted in the film. It also successfully integrated facts and data about not only the 1990 atrocity but also the civilizational threat that Kashmir has faced for generations, all without turning the film into a documentary.
It accurately represented the incompetence of the Indian administration at the time, the ploys of Pakistani parties that fed separatist propaganda to the populace, the radicalization of our own neighbors, and other issues of national importance.