A commentary on the film The Kashmir Files and associated contemporary issues.

Sunrise after darkness. Film The Kashmir Files depicts the experience of Kashmiri Hindus over past three decades. Unlike other movies, that generally have an imagined story, villain-hero engagement and closure where good triumph over bad, plot of this film is not imagined, dialogues are not fictitious, it is about disengagement, and there is no closure. While technical aspects of the film and acting are quite superlative, the truth of narrated incidents compels attention.

Living Continuum. There have been films like Schindler’s List made on genocides in the past, however, the villains of those episodes have been prosecuted and convicted, ideology destroyed and closure made. It is not so in Kashmir. The Kashmir Files are of the present. The Director has strung together various recorded incidents from lives of Kashmiri Hindus to make the movie plot.

The Haunting. This movie throws up haunting questions that linger for long- What is justice ? What is truth ? Can justice be delivered to those who are tortured and killed ? Will Government and Administration, who are responsible to protect people, be held to account for dereliction of duty ?

Accountability and Justice. When there is systematic crime and the government administration is apathetic, as it was in Kashmir, the government and administration are answerable. The judiciary that opened its door to a terrorist at midnight and shut its door to Kashmiri Hindus, needs to introspect. There is dialogue in the movie that says hope is what drives people. But even the hope of justice is denied to Kashmiri Hindus by the Supreme Court of India. It is perhaps indicative that a judicial system that is largely set by colonialists of 19th century may not be appropriate for a free Nation of 21st century.

Crime Unpunished. Bitta Karate stated in a TV interview that he killed 20 Kashmiri Hindus. Yet, the Supreme Court of India gave him bail in 2006. He was re-arrested only in 2019 after removal of Article 370 and still is not convicted for those crimes.

Closure. A question naturally arises in the mind as you watch this movie- “Will these killings ever stop ?”

Cover Fire. It has become fashionable now to portray terrorists as ‘rebel fighting injustice’ to excuse their crime. But, a dialogue in the movie reminds that Kashmiri Hindus never picked up gun. The phrase itself- ‘picked up gun‘, implying easy picking, is designed to hide the organizing that go behind it. Guns cost money. People who work hard to make a living don’t give money to gun dealers. In a democratic country, terrorists called as insurgents or ‘gandhians-with-gun’, are invariably funded by vested interests who route funds to gun-runners, mobilize, distribute guns, induce or mislead certain members of target populace to do their bidding, and create a situation that benefit the enemy’s interest.

Sold Out. There is another dialogue in the movie- ‘if you are up for sale, market will open’. East India Company demonstrated it two centuries ago by recruiting indian sepoys. Ahimsa of Gandhi and the non-violent independence movement of Congress are propagated as main reason for India’s independence, in the process portraying the british as conscious stricken and having change of heart. However, fact is that it was only when the sailors of Royal Indian Navy rose against them in 1946, that the british left. As long as the british had indian sepoys with them, Ahimsa and non-violent agitations proved to be ineffective.

Betrayal. In Kashmir, instigation for genocide came from India’s western neighbour, but perpetrators were Kashmiris- the people who converted earlier under force, who had same ancestors as Kashmiri hindus. Some were even their friends, neighbors and former students of the victims.

Dichotomy. It is a fact, that the lingering Kashmir issue is legacy of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who took it to UN, and Sheikh Abdullah, both of kashmiri ancestry. Indeed, both perpetrators and victims of Kashmir have similar lineage, like asuras and devas- the children of Rishi Kashyap- after whom Kashmir is named. While asurik nature is to inflict unspeakable cruelty, deivik nature is to remain benevolent.

What’s in a name? Many people have called the movie a lie. It includes people with surname of Kak, Kaul, Khanna and Chopra. Irony is that people with such these surnames were among those driven out from Kashmir and West Punjab by similar perpetrators during Partition. Similarly, people driven out from Malabar in 1921 included surname of Menon. Yet, a University Professor of that surname supported the agenda of Kashmiri terrorists. There is a character in this movie, depicted on that University Professor.

A question arises- Why do they do this, why do they betray their own ?

If Rishi Kashyap’s children could have asurik character, it is no surprise to see similar character among children of Kak, Kaul, Khanna and Menon.

Ownership. While in western belief systems of religion and science, children are considered to inherit parent’s character, in indic culture a person’s character is considered to be the result of their karma samskara (essence of past actions that prompt present inclinations), which are transferred across multiple births.

Varna. Humans are considered to be of four types (varna), as stated by Sri Krishna in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, based on guna– which is inherent character/orientation (a result of prarabdha karma samskara), and karma– which is action/occupation in the present. The four types are- knowledge spreaders/scholars (brahmana), protectors/administrators (kshatriya), producers/creative people (vyshya), and the helpers of these three (sudra).

Dual Vision. In today’s society, even though a professor/judge may get more respect, policemen/politician maybe more feared, industrialist maybe more wealthy and helpers may be least wealthy, the present system is not considered discriminatory or exploitative, yet exact same division of occupation of the past is condemned as discriminatory caste system. Today, even though we see a politician’s son inheriting his party post, a judge’s son becomes judge, industrialist’s son inherits his company, film star’s son becomes film star, and poor are left to fend for themselves with lip service, the system is not viewed as birth-based discrimination, yet similar instance in the past is accused as birth-based discrimination.

How did the guna-karma based varnashrama system become birth-based caste system ?

Visitor Records. Iranian historian Al Beruni visited Bharat a thousand years ago and recorded about varna system prevalent then. As translated by british historian Arthur Llewellyn Basham, he stated about the four varnas, that- ‘Much as they differ from each other, they live together in the same towns and villages, mixed together in the same houses and lodgings’.

Disruption. Over the following millennium after Al Beruni’s visit, relentless assaults carried out by isIamic invaders and christian colonialists destroyed the fabric of indic society. Varna system was destroyed. People who considered vasudhaiva kutumbakam and prayed- ‘sarve bhavantu sukhinah’ were silenced. The centres of knowledge, administrative control, industry, families and traditions, were all disrupted or destroyed and millions of people killed or taken as slaves or starved to death.

Feudal Race. On the ruins of this society, the british conducted a census in 1871 and classified people based on birth, which was based on their feudal experience and in line with colonialist race theory. British administration thereafter used this birth-based census for their mis-governance.

Sanatana. In Ramayana and Mahabharata and Puranas there are various instances of people engaging in activities different from that based on birth, including the authors of these texts themselves- Maharshi Valmiki and Maharshi Vyasa. In present day Bharat too, the highest positions are occupied by people elected based on their competence, not based on birth, reflecting ethos of this civilization that values karma over janma.

Inheritance. Since asuras and devas are diametrically opposite, a question arises- who among the two deserves to inherit Rishi Kashyap’s Kashmir ?

Value Legacy. Modern jurisprudence which is largely based on western colonialist foundation may consider all biological children as equal heirs and cut the land into two. But, indic view would be to consider only those who live the values of Rishi Kashyap- whose actions benefits the world, as the heir of Rishi Kashyap and of Kashmir.

Native Life. Those who choose to adopt foreign invasive ideology are at constant strife with those who follow native traditions. The Kashmiri Hindus who chose not to succumb to invasive foreign ideology- despite numerous sufferings inflicted on them over a millennium, never picked a gun, never inflicted suffering on anyone, did not victim-monger, did not wallow in persecution complex. They show that life is to be lived without malice, and many of them went on to succeed in various spheres of life.

Bhumi of Sharada. The lead female role in the movie is named Sharada, after the most revered Devi of Kashmir. The Sharada Devi temple is now in POK, in ruins. The experience of Sharada metaphorically reflects the repeated assaults and torture that Kashmir was subjected to- Bhumi made to drink the blood of her kin,  and divided into two parts.

Silence of the Broken? The younger son of Sharada, who was brought up by his grandfather Pushkar Nath Pandit, is unaware of bitter experiences his family suffered. After he learns what happened to his family, he wonders why his grandpa never told him about it. A friend of his grandpa makes a profound statement- ‘broken (hearted) people do not tell, they must be heard’.

The Unbroken. Pushkar Nath Pandit’s heart may have been broken by the apathy shown by government administration and rest of his countrymen, and by his friends who were not friends in need. But his mind was not broken. He could have converted and saved his family and property, like many of his neighbours did. Despite all the suffering, he did not let go of what his tormentors wanted him to let go- his heritage.  His soul was not broken. Broken people are those who succumb to external pressure and give up their invaluable heritage and truth. On the other hand, those who persevere, despite deprivation and destitution, are Unbroken.

The broken people do not tolerate the Unbroken, because the latter’s existence constantly challenges the choice of convenience made by the former.

An-Al-Haq. A thousand years ago in Arabia, Mansur-Al-Hallaj declared- ‘An-Al-Haq‘, which means ‘I am truth’. He was hung to death for that. All those who vocalized such realized statements in the West were invariably silenced by each of the three abrahamic religions; to name a few- Jesus of Nazareth, Joan of Arc and Mansur-Al-Hallaj.

Ayam atma brahma. In Bharat, on the other hand, it is stated in Vedas, explained by Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, and experienced by millions. Adi Shankaracharya proclaimed it ascending Sharada peeth of Kashmir- Aham Brahmasmi– I Am Truth; and, So Are You (Tat tvam asi).

Nature’s Garland. Adi Shankaracharya had a debate with Mandanamishra in which victor was decided on the basis of whose flower garland remained fresh. The moderator and judge of that debate was a lady- Ubhaya Bharati, affirming the respectful position of women in a society that considered Devi Sharada as the repository of wisdom. A culture that sustains the Nature’s garland of diverse living beings, ideologies and thoughts, and keeps it fresh, and respects Sharada Devi; that culture of Bharat is of Kashmir of Rishi Kashyap. Unbroken are the people who retain it.

Education. This movie is about a son of Sharada who was broken by his University Professor to become a spokesman of foreign invasive agenda, but later realized truth and returned Unbroken. Many in this country brought up under western education system may have similar experience. The current education system, originally made by colonialist british to produce clerks and sepoys, largely continues its function.

Return of the Native. The most popular text of this land, Ramayana is authored by a person who once was a broken man, later he realized his truth to become Maharshi Valmiki. Bharat is the land of possibilities for being Unbroken.

The Whole. Life is an interplay of purusha and prakriti. Male and female are integral components of it, like day and night are of Time. So, indic deities are worshipped along with Shakthi, such as MahaVishnu- MahaLakshmi, Mahadev-Maheshwari. Cleaving of the integral divinity to demand sole worship of male alone skews the mind of certain people to view the female as inferior or a consumable. For a millennium such people tried to destroy Kashmir- a daughter of Himavan. They wanted Kashmir ‘Bata ros ta batanev san’, which means ‘with kashmiri hindu women, without their men-folk‘. They cut Kashmir bhumi into two and did a seventh genocide. Yet, lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus still refuse to succumb, and preserve their true heritage, they revere Devi Sharada- Devi Girija, in her whole form.

Kashmir is the truth of these Unbroken People of Bharat.

Acknowledgement- To Director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri and all Unbroken people.

Note: – An elaborate form of this article was published here

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