Vivek Agnihotri's The Kashmir Files

by Ash Raina, Kashmiri Pandits Australia (KPA)

With a heavy, but strong, heart, I am writing this to tell the world about the emotions going through after watching the latest Hindi blockbuster, “The Kashmir Files – Right to Justice”, or TKF for the gen X audience.

Kashyapa reclaimed the land now comprising Kashmir from a vast lake and that land came to be known as Kashyapamar and, later, Kashmir. Having achieved considerable prominence as a centre of Hindu culture, a succession of Hindu dynasties ruled Kashmir until 1346, when it came under Muslim rule. The Muslim period lasted nearly five centuries, which also resulted in 6 genocides and exodus from the valley, before Kashmir was annexed to the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab in 1819 and then to the Dogra kingdom of Jammu in 1846. Jammu and Kashmir Accession Day is celebrated annually in the union territory to commemorate the day when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession in 1947, making Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India.

Fast forward to 1990, 19th January, genocide number 7 was put in place where temples were desecrated, selective killings of well-known Kashmiri Pandits was put in action, to create fear psychosis within the community, to such an extent that they had to leave their homeland in the dead of night for the fear of being killed or raped.

After hard work, research, interviewing and documenting the true events of Kashmiri Pandits for 3 years plus, finally on 11th March 2022, “The Kashmir Files” was released in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, in multiple theatres, alongside its worldwide launch. Vivek R Agnihotri (Director) and Pallavi Joshi (Producer & Actress) have been instrumental in getting those true stories to life on the screen and letting the world know about the genocide which nobody dared to tell for the last 32 years. After watching TKF, the response of audience has been overwhelming and unbelievable tears and sorrow being shown.

Some excerpts of TKF review can be found at:

I was 14 when one night my mom asked us to pack our school bags and some clothes for a month, for a sojourn to Jammu (300 kms away from our home). Education, non-violence and empathy for all is what was taught to all of us. She like all other parents knew that the situation will get better in a month and we will resume our daily routines thereafter. Little did we all know that it will lengthen to 32 years with no return plan still in sight. And it didn’t all happen on that night of 19th January 1990.

Started with killings of known community faces like Shri A.K. Ganjoo (1987), followed by Shri Tika Lal Taploo & Nila Kant Ganjoo (1989), the action was a dire threat to all other community members to either follow the jihad movement or get killed.

Also read: While the world and Indian media kept away, SBS delivered

In fact “Raliv, Chaliv ya Galiv”, meaning “Convert, Leave or Die” was given as an option on a daily basis over loudspeakers and protest rallies attended by thousands of majority members, who happened to be the same neighbors and friends we lived and played with. This has been very effectively displayed in TKF with gory details of the massacres in which the entire village was exterminated based on the religion and love/loyalty for India.

Terrorists and their sympathisers would run a parallel system, with covert support from the state administration, whose Chief Minister (Farooq Abdullah) ran away to London, leaving the citizens on their own. There was complete apathy from the state and central governments.

For reference, definition of Genocide, as per UN, covers the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

In the land that was once the seat of knowledge and learning, its aborginals – the Kashmiri Pandits – want the government and the world to acknowledge their genocide, provide justice to victims by putting terrorists and their supporters behind bars, and long for their return to their homeland.

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