Srinagar: The mainstream political leadership in Kashmir feel that the film, The Kashmir Files, depicting the plight of Kashmiri Hindus in the early 1990s, would serve to widen the gulf between communities in the region.
The film has been mired in controversy since its release in theatres, followed by extreme communal outbursts in movie halls, something that many people said could lead to mob violence against the Muslim communities and Kashmiri people in particular.
While many expressed their “disappointment” on social media that the film was “weaponising” the tragedy of one community and pitching them against the Muslim population, former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday said that many “lies” have been projected in the film.
“Is this a documentary or a commercial film? If this is a documentary, then we can say that whatever has been shown is right. But, the filmmakers have said that it is based on reality, so it is not a documentary,” the National Conference (NC) leader said on the sidelines of a rally in South Kashmir’s Kulgam.
Backers of the film said that it depicts a ‘true picture’ of what the minority Hindu community of the valley faced at the hands of insurgents in the early years of militancy in the 1990s. The film, they claim, is the first such production to bring out the “real truth” of alleged crimes committed against the Kashmir Pandit minority, leading to their exodus. Scenes of audiences crying at the movie halls have gone viral since the film was released on March 11. Many accused the region’s Muslim majority and NC and Congress parties of being complicit.
“The truth is that when Kashmiri pandits were leaving the valley, Farooq Abdullah was not the chief minister. Kashmir was under Governor Rule and Jagmohan was the governor. There was a VP Singh-led government at the Centre which was backed by BJP. Why haven’t they shown that? They have shown Farooq Abdullah but not BJP backing VP Singh,” Omar Abdullah questioned.
Taking a dig at its filmmakers, Omar Abdullah said the sacrifices in Kashmir were not made by only a particular community but others also faced the wrath. “We regret the deaths of Kashmiri Pandits, it should not have happened, but so have Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Sikhs (died),” he said.
He said the situation should be made conducive for the return of Kashmiri Pandits, “but, I don’t think the filmmakers want their return. They want the people, who have lost their homes, to always remain outside.”
Calling the phase of early 1990s as a dark chapter in Kashmir’s history, Communist party of India (Marxist) leader M Y Tarigami pointed out that all communities in the region had to bear the brunt of violence.
“It is unfortunate that Kashmir in the past many decades continuously witnessed tragic situations. Migration of Kashmiri Pandits is indeed a dark phase in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, but it is also true that those who perpetrated atrocities here did not single out any caste, colour or religion but made everyone suffer. On one hand, people named Tika Lal and Lassa Koul were killed but at the same time Mohammad Shaban Wakil was killed. They did not even spare a bed-ridden old leader Moulana Masoodi,” Tarigami said.
Vivek Agnihotri, the film’s maker, has previously forayed into the death of India’s former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri in his film The Tashkent Files, alleging a conspiracy that drew criticism including from Shashtri’s kin. His new film, however, has got endorsement from many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, BJP-led state governments, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The manner in which GOI is aggressively promoting Kashmir Files & is weaponising pain of Kashmiri Pandits makes their ill intention obvious. Instead of healing old wounds & creating a conducive atmosphere between the two communities, they are deliberately tearing them apart,” People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.