Hate Buster: IAS officer laments how the plight of Kashmir Pandits is being exploited Sudha Koul, Kashmir’s first woman IAS officer, disagrees with the divisive movie The Kashmir Files

26, Mar 2022 | CJP Team

“Home is home and I have too few summers left to waste for the political benefit of contemptible opportunists,” says Sudha Koul, the first woman IAS officer from Kashmir, adding her voice to that of many Kashmiri Pandits who have called out the propaganda driven film The Kashmir Files, that continues to be used as an excuse by criminal elements to spread hate and issue violent threats.

In a moving opinion piece published by The Wire, Koul recalled a time of harmony when Pandits and Muslims coexist in harmony. She puts on record that “after the guerilla camps in Pakistan, the insurgency and resultant fanatical murders and rapes of innocent Pandits, it is hard to reconcile the past with the present,” and asks now that “the grotesque unthinkable has happened, but where do we go from here?” For Koul, Kashmir is her homeland “and the evaporation of a beautiful viable life in the valley” deeply bothers her.

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She says, “Vilifying Muslims serves no purpose and has no legs. Today, Pandits are going back in droves to Kashmir, for short and long periods; they have started buying property there. They stay with or mingle with their beloved old friends, all Muslim, who tell them that they yearn for them. Some have conducted weddings in their villages at which Muslim ladies who used to sing and perform the festive folk dance rov have done so again.” Sharing that after The Kashmir Files she too “like many Pandits, have been inundated by emails, memes, social media messages and phone calls,” but asks, “What purpose” will the movie and its commercial success serve?

As an author she wrote The Tiger Ladies: A Memoir of Kashmir, and as an artist and painted a series on the fleeing of Hindus from the valley titled Pandits at Nightfall, and recalled that those were not received with the masses the way the film was, because “there was no accusatory anger” in her words. According to Koul, not much attention has been paid to “the horrors faced by the Muslims, i.e., 98% of the valley’s populace” even though “thousands of articles and photographs on what happened to us Pandits in Kashmir have been discussed, been circulated and seen.”

She ends with a call of peace and alerts that such a film (and its aftermath) “helps those who see India as a Hindus-only country” adding that “Pandits are being used by people, some of whom look down upon Kashmiris as hatho, a subspecies, a curse from our long serfdom under foreign rule for centuries” and that one day she wants to go back to “my Kashmir, knowing fully well that in my lifetime it will never be what it was; too much water has flown under its seven bridges for that. I want to bask in the love and hospitality that seems to have returned steadily to my beloved valley. Of course, there are people who cannot bear to see harmony, it does not suit their purpose so they will always sabotage it.”

Image Courtesy:goodreads.com


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