A few of you are wondering why the #kashmirfilesmovie is important to each of us as Kashmiri Pandits. I am told by a few of you, that such a film must never have been made because it fuels hatred. Many of you have felt that this is a propaganda film funded by the BJP. You believe that the Kashmiri Pandit Exodus never happened; sorry not believe, you are convinced that one day hundreds of Kashmiri Hindus decided to follow Jagmohan like the pied piper and wandered away from their homes in whatever little they could find and abandon the comfort of their homes in bone chilling cold wintry night to live in a place worse than a slum.
Ofcourse you know better.
For years, everytime I am asked where I am from; a garbled response blurts out of me – Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Dehradun, Nottingham, London, Milton Keynes…..and the list will carry on to the time I die. I am sure it is the same for my sisters, for my cousins and many other Kashmiri Pandit kids, who were born in exile.
Almost every year, I go to Kashmir, sometimes almost twice a year to just feel at home. And no I was not born in Kashmir. I was born in Chandigarh. Many fellow KPs have teased me as a ‘fake kashmiri’ because I am not fluent in my Kashmiri and I perhaps don’t even look very Kashmiri. Having smiled through it all, I could never say how much it has hurt all these years to be from ‘nowhere’.

I was 28 years old when I first learnt about the KP Exodus, having accidentally chanced upon a discussion at a Kashmiri gathering. I looked at husband and asked him what everyone was talking about.

I didn’t know.

Both my parents are Kashmiri Pandits. My grandparents on both sides also were Kashmiri Pandits. My great grand parents were also Kashmiri Pandits. Yet, I did not know what they and their extended families suffered through.

I was angry, very angry the day I found out. So I called my Nani (maternal grandmother). All she said was, ‘There has never been an opportunity to tell you. There is nothing to tell. Everything is lost forever now.’

I can’t even remember properly where she said I was from. Broadly remember Habbaqadal and Fatehqadal. I also remember that we had family in Karan Nagar. I also have vivid memories of Rainawari, where my Dadi’s brother lived – we called him Mama ji. I have memory of playing dressing up in the parapet just above the river that they called ‘Dab’. I loved watching Mama ji shave his beard every early morning with that tiny mirror and a metallic shaver he assembled. Then he would open the shaving cream in a tin box. Mami ji would make the ‘lipton’ chai with milk powder – I have memory of the smell of the tea and how I used to be given spoonfuls of dry milk powder to eat. How I fussed over food and how my favourite comfort food was rice, milk and sugar (when all else failed). I was only 3 years old perhaps!
I go to Kashmir every year and go to Tulmula Kheerbhawani Mandir without fail, every single time I go there. I feel at peace there. I remember the time when my Dad and Bade Daddy (my father’s elder cousin) rode on Bajaj scooters, to Tulmul Mandir and on the way at an accident, my fingers scraped against something and bled. I remember the smell of the ‘Luchi’ (pooris) under the tree at Tulmul and the dip in the water that my Dad and uncle took, and I chuckled that I was saved from the cold dip as I was injured. I remember the arti at the Kheerbhawani mandir and several families picnicing and doing darshan. Kids running around and playing, carefree.
But all these years, I have not known where my family lived. So I asked my Mother and all my Uncles, Aunties where our homes were and what were our addresses in Kashmir.
This is not only to know where my home was but also for those who say, forget and move on, I would like to tell them my home address and invite them to visit my home; or the memory of it.
For those who think telling the truth about Kashmiri Pandits’ forced exodus and genocide will fuel hatred, they must first visit their own history. Find out where your family comes from and where they lived.
What category do your family fall within?
Die? Did you lose any family members to persecution?
Convert? Were your family forced to convert to another religion?
Leave? Or did you leave your homes forever, never to return? 

It is easy to whitewash the truth and turn away from it. Until it is so close to your bone that it numbs you.
I would also like to say this to you and to everyone who thinks Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri has out of his crazy imagination, woven a story to create hatred and so happened to pick Anupam Kher Bhasha Sumbli and others as very obvious Kashmiri Hindus to make a point. Vivek did not fabricate these stories.Vivek, travelled around the world, listening to the tragedies of 700 families, cried with them, filmed them and then put together almost a timeline of our cumulative journey via this film. The deception we faced at the hands of our childhood friends, our neighbours. The wrongfooting by the administration, media, government and the unsafe, dangerous and hostile environment Hindus lived in and continue to live in Kashmir valley being called names like ‘dali gadwa’. The fear in which we lived.

Yes! We lived on, a few of us to pursue education. We did not pick up guns, nor stones. We escaped the dance of death and apathy to grow up and then be gaslighted by you, our dear friends, school mates, neighbours, colleagues.

As our community struggled everyday to survive, the exile consciousness was kept alive by our elders, by those ordinary people who you call cowards. They are the people who are our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties and who lost family members once and then a few other times, every single time they tried to go back home. They know, from experience that the idea of returning to the neighbourhoods of our perpetrators will not work and thus the demand for a separate Homeland. You think this demand to be outlandish and rather unreal but try living our lives for the past 7 generations and beyond to know how many times we have ‘returned to Kashmir’ and met with the same three choices:
You on the other hand have an easier choice yet. All you need to do is go to a movie hall, sit in a comfortable seat and watch our story for just 3 hours. I have spent over 7 generations to tell my truth. Would you not spend 3 hours to hear a glimpse of my story?
And no, this is not a propaganda post. I am deeply hurt by your apathy and lack of sensitivity to our story being told without white washing or polishing for the first time. I am not hurt because you choose not to believe my story. I am sad for you because you are so ignorant of your own story. Go find out your own history, your own home address. You may begin to understand just a tiny bit of my pain.

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