‘The Kashmir Files’ Brings Societal Divide in J&K

Oscars 2023: The Kashmir Files among 5 Indian films eligible for nominations

The not so famous director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is in news for his movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ which has become a box office blockbuster across the country. The month of March was awaited by all for assembly poll results on March 10. But the very next day, on March 11, ‘The Kashmir Files’ film hit the screens and since then is in the news for its content which grabbed all eyeballs and has become part of political rhetoric. The movie has once again touched the wounds of Kashmiri Pandit community by narrating their story of exodus in 1990. The message of the movie has gone wrong and it seems the public isn’t shown all the truth in the movie.  Although it’s a fictional story depicting a Kashmiri Pandit student whose parents were killed by militants. Yet it has picked up the shape of a storm in the world of Indian cinema. From receiving support to criticism to allegations of diversionary tactics, this movie has all things floating around it.

This is not all; even the political circles are buzzing as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have openly praised ‘The Kashmir Files’. The BJP-ruled state governments have come out in its defense by waiving tax on it. Interestingly, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lent support to the ‘The Kashmir Files’ and recently at the BJP Parliamentary Party meet he said “People who always raise the flag of freedom of expression are restless. Instead of reviewing facts, a campaign is being run to discredit it..” Besides, the filmmakers of the ‘Kashmir Files’ also got to meet PM Modi. Such projection of film didn’t go well with local Congress leaders in J&K and Jammu Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee Chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said, “The government of the day which was supported by BJP at the centre, can’t absolve itself of the sin of the sufferings and killings of the displaced Kashmiri community. Unfortunately, the present govt. in office for over seven years, has also failed to take any major initiative for their return and rehabilitation and of their children.  Only the ongoing projects, schemes &  packages of Dr. Manmohan Singh led UPA are being carried forward, on a very slow pace only and there is nothing new for them except crocodile tears for gaining sympathy of crores of countrymen with an eye of votes”. “The government can’t absolve itself of the continued violence and targeted killings of minority communities and pro-India forces in Kashmir and elsewhere and should take firm result oriented steps for their return, rehabilitation and settlement in an atmosphere of security and harmony by bridging the gaps in communities and not by further vitiating the atmosphere by promoting hatred and division”, he added. A special screening of this movie was held in Jammu & later while addressing the press Vivek Agnihotri was confronted by a local journalist who asked him, “Why haven’t you shown about Muslims who helped Kashmiri Pandit families in those days?”. He evaded this sharp question by replying that, “The concept of this movie was different”. It didn’t end here, as this movie talks about one of the chapters of the history of Kashmir and everything relating to Kashmir always raises high interest in Jammu’s social circles. And it happened this time also, when an incident erupted through a video on Twitter stating that after the release of the movie, screening for the film was stopped in Wave Mall of Jammu. This matter further escalated when Vivek Agnihotri, the director of ‘The Kashmir Files’, quoted one complaint and tweeted “This is absolutely illegal and undemocratic. Pl don’t surrender to arm twisting and political pressures. And I request the audience to demand the manager of @wavecinemas on what basis they have done it. Ask them to show the written orders from any competent authority”.

The weaponization of the film has deepened the societal divide in J&K. The Kashmiri Pandit families in J&K appear also divided. “The ‘Kashmir Files’ has stirred a controversy. But the real fact is that the exodus of nearly 3 lakh Hindus, Sikhs and pro-India Muslims was mainly due to targeted killings carried out by Pakistan supported militants since 1987. Main targets were Pandits who were hunted down by militants. Nearly 5 massacres were carried out by terrorists. For 30-years the narrative was being pushed that Pandits left due to the conspiracy and Governor Jagmohan was responsible, but that is not a fact. The theory was forwarded to hide the brutal killings and put blame on the victims themselves and absolve the separatists and militant groups from the crimes committed. ‘Kashmir files’ has depicted some incidents, I think those who oppose it should demand an independent probe and investigation of the cases and talk to surviving family members of victims. It should cover all 30-years of Kashmir conflict. However the issue should not be turned into a political game. It will hurt everybody”, said Arvind Dhar, a migrant Pandit living in Jammu. Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti, a group of the residents living in Kashmir, has tweeted saying that ‘The Kashmir Files’ makes resident Kashmiri Pandits, living in Kashmir, feel unsafe. “As many of us have seen the movie “The Kashmir Files”, it depicts the lives of Kashmiri Pandits and their sufferings. But it fails to shed light on the whole truth behind the Kashmir exodus, along with Kashmiri Pandits many civilians also lost their lives. It blinds us from the entire truth. For telling this generation about the Kashmir exodus is a fantastic job but to portray the Kashmiri Pandits as bait in a political propaganda is very dangerous for different communities as it is causing communal disharmony” said Afaq Hussain Kazmi who is Vice president of Anjuman-e-Imamia in Jammu.

This reflects that all people in Kashmir were affected and through this movie only it is being pushed that Kashmiri Pandits were affected. This is not all, now the Hindu Dogras and members of Sikhs community have raised their voice openly on social media against Vivek Agnihotri. They are constantly reminding him of the mass killings, rapes, suicides, abduction of women of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) refugees in 1947. Moreover, he is being reminded by many people on various social media platform that infact this was the ‘first genocide’ in J&K and not of the ‘Kashmiri Pandits’. They are demanding that Vivek Agnihotri should now make a movie ‘The Jammu Files’ to appear clean and just not become propagandist with his latest movie. The polarization method was used by the film’s director, Vivek Agnihotri, in the past also. ‘The Tashkent Files’ was Agnihotri’s another film and was also highly criticized by sane voices for presenting rumors in the shape of a movie. In it, he alleged a conspiracy in the death of former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri. Basically, no one should act as a pawn of the ruling class. It would be the happiest moment for all when films help in bringing peace in Jammu and Kashmir.


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