The Kashmir Files

NB: Here are two reviews of The Kashmir Files, with different interpretations. Readers are welcome to their own conclusions. Since this is a matter I have spoken and written about for many years, I attach below a selection of my posts beneath the reviews, without further comment. DS

The Kashmir Files: Cinema As Testimony. Siddhartha Gigoo

K-Files impact: Kashmiri Pandit interests take a back seat. Bharat Bhushan

(The second article may be inaccessible, so I attach the text beneath the list of posts – DS)


Posts from my blog

What is to be Undone: (This post is about the February 2016 student meeting on Kashmir in JNU that led to a major controversy and police cases)

Kashmir – 16 yrs on, Wandhama victims …

Superflous people – review of ‘Our Moon has blood clots’

Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti Press Release …

The Other Kashmiri Dissenters ​

Kashmir Oral History

Kashmiri Pandits Stage Protest March in Srinagar

Prominent Kashmiri Pandit businessman shot dead in Srinagar

Dinanath Nadim – Kashmir’s forgotten poet by Mohan K. Tikku

Kashmir: Conversations on Exile. Panel discussion on Friday March 10

Mubashir Mir – Between Sanghi & Separatists: an alternate perspective from Kashmir

Aarti Tikoo Singh: Digvijay Singh is lying about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits

Yoginder Khandari on the plight of Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Hindus living in Kashmir Valley

‘In solidarity with all Kashmiri students’: An appeal by a group of Kashmiri Pandits

When a Hindu is killed in Kashmir, all Kashmiri Muslims must condemn it, just as all Hindus must condemn lynching of Muslims anywhere in India – Sanjay Tickoo

Mansoor Anwar on Comrade Abdul Sattar Ranjoor

P. B. Mehta: What the attacks against minorities in Kashmir reveal

Dhrubo Jyoti – 30 years of Pandit exodus: Night of terror that prefaced years of exile

We Fear For the 400 Kashmiri Pandit Families in South Kashmir: Sanjay Tickoo

Rashmi Singh – Migrant Workers in the Kashmir Valley

Quratulain Rehbar: A Year On, Kashmiri Man’s Family Despairs His Continued Incarceration Under PSA

Communist Party of India Report (1950) – Imperialist aggression in Kashmir

High Court of Jammu & Kashmir upholds Sanjay Tickoo’s petition for protection of religious places and castigates communal versions of nationalism.

Sanjay Tickoo’s Open Letter to Omar Abdullah …

‘Everyone’s Darling’: Merajuddin Shah, The Kashmiri Killed At A Checkpoint

Sualeh Keen on the exodus of Kashmir’s Pandits

SIDDHARTHA GIGOO – To Die While Dreaming of return …

Kashmir – 16 yrs on, Wandhama victims await justice

Rahul Pandita – There are no goodbyes

Two articles on the Pathribal fake encounter case 

Samar Halarnkar demands justice for the victims of Pathribal

Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, CPI(M) MLA, J&K: ‘Serious dialogue need of the hour’

Comrade Satyapal Dang: Lessons of Punjab have Relevance for Kashmir

Sampradayikta Virodhi Andolan :Documents

Bharat Bhushan: The Kashmir valley has rejected PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Gram Swaraj’

Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti Fast-unto-Death enters day 7

‘Don’t allow self-styled leaders to oppose resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits’ ‘No one has the right to dictate anyone’s return to their own home,’ write a group of Kashmiri Muslims

BHARAT BHUSHAN: Cracks appear in Kashmiri political class as govt seeks middle ground

Sanjay Tickoo: ‘Given the political backlash, no Pandit can or will return to Valley’

A message and an appeal

Ramachandra Guha: Why attack young Kashmiris for a crime committed by someone else?

RSS organisations in Dehradun force two colleges to say they won’t admit Kashmiris

This Student Helped Evacuate Hundreds Of Kashmiris After Pulwama

Our Men Didn’t Die So Someone Could Spread Communal Hatred: CRPF

Naeem Akhtar: The aftermath of Pulwama marks the retreat of political engagement with Kashmir // Mukul Kesavan:The road to ruin

People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) condemns mob violence against Kashmiri students and traders

Kashmiri Pandit who helped stranded Kashmiri Muslims After Pulwama. By Betwa Sharma

Anil Nauriya: Targeting Kashmir’s leaders (2005) // Not a Muslim vs the rest issue – the Destruction of a Historic Party-Understanding Kashmir and the National Conference Experience (2002)

Express editorial: It will hurt democracy if Balakot leaves behind only the patriotism test // Nationalism Is Being Used To Divide People: Pratap Bhanu Mehta


It would seem against common sense to say that the controversial film Kashmir Files may have done more harm than good to the cause of Kashmiri Pandits. The hosannas being sung for this propaganda film need to be fact-checked for the impact it is likely to have.

A few conversations with the Pandits who stayed back in the Valley and Hindus in Jammu are sufficient to suggest that the more widely this film is seen in J&K, the more Kashmiri Pandits will be isolated and find it even harder to return to the Valley. Those who stayed on or returned under the special resettlement scheme of the Manmohan Singh government are likely to experience greater insecurity.

Some Kashmiri Pandits, especially in Jammu, had angered Muslim Kashmiris by distributing sweets when the special status of the state of J&K was abrogated in 2019. Barely had that anger eased, when old wounds have been reopened by the film. They feel betrayed that Kashmiri Pandits, are lending credence to the film’s storyline which besides other cinematic lies, exaggerates the killings (4,000 as opposed to 667 recorded by Kashmiri Pandit organisations) and portrays Kashmiri Muslims as blackguards.

The Valley’s residents claim that the worst impact of the film will be on the generation that grew up after the departure of large numbers of Kashmiri Pandits three decades ago. They are unaware of the composite social fabric of Kashmir which was destroyed by militancy. The film, they feel, will make these 16 to 21-year-olds even angrier and this is the age-group from which militancy gets it new recruits. Their parents feel unable to influence their thinking and wonder if neighbours will be able to protect the miniscule number of Kashmiri Pandits who remain, as some of them did during the 1990 exodus.

In the Valley, the film is being screened in Badami Bagh Cantonment, the headquarters of the Chinar Corps, where soldiers have been watching it in large numbers. The propaganda consequences of the film on the psyche of the soldiers who have to deal with Kashmiri Muslims on a daily basis can only be imagined. If this is being facilitated by the army authorities then one wonders what purpose it serves.

The perception in the Valley is that the ruling dispensation in Delhi is not really bothered about the security of Kashmiri Pandits. Local residents point to the killing of the respected local Kashmiri Pandit pharmacist, Makhanlal Bindroo in the high security zone of Srinagar and the shooting of two non-Muslim school teachers in the city in broad daylight. These were described by the Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh as “an attempt to defame the local Muslims of Kashmir” and aiming “to attack and damage the age-old tradition of communal harmony and brotherhood in Kashmir.”

Now, precisely the same objective is being achieved by the active promotion of the film by Central and state governments controlled by Bharatiya Janata Party. If the social fabric of Kashmir, barely on the mend, is again torn apart by raking up old wounds, anger will be triggered against non-Muslims. The militants may find it difficult to target people outside J&K but there are easier targets nearer home. “They will not go to Delhi. They will kill me first,” a Kashmiri Pandit in the Valley quipped with resignation.

While in Jammu, the common perception is that the film will lead to the consolidation of the Hindu-vote this assumption looks shaky on closer examination. The Hindus of Jammu are not a homogeneous lot. The Dogras resent the ethnic superiority they sense from the Pandits who they say have kept up friendships with Kashmiri Muslims rather than establish relations with the communities in Jammu. The few Dogra-Kashmiri Pandit inter-marriages that have taken place are looked at askance. Kashmiri Pandits who have traditionally been better educated, also present competition for the Dogras as they tend to get better jobs in the local administration.

Against this local history of the two communities, it is shallow to assume that a film about the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits will bring them together in sympathy. In fact, other refugees who came to Jammu feel the state has done far less for them in terms of compensation, education, employment facilities, and the grant of all-India quotas. These include the descendants of families who came in 1947 as refugees to Jammu after the massacres of non-Muslims in Mirpur (20,000 Hindus and Sikhs), Muzaffarabad (18,000 slaughtered), Bhimber (about 5,000) and Rajouri (7,000) among other places by Pakistani soldiers, irregulars and local Muslims. Their grudge is that the film promotes one set of refugees while failing to recognise the suffering of others.

It is a historical fact that the biggest massacre was that of Muslims between 14 October to November 1947. Up to 100,000 Muslims were killed in Jammu while 200,000 Muslims migrated to Pakistan in that two-month period alone. Call it “whataboutry” but there is a palpable lack of sympathy for Kashmir Pandits among Jammu residents.

The film neither benefits the Kashmiri Pandits nor heals old wounds. It will instead deepen social divisions in both the Valley and in Jammu. Its official sponsorship suggests that when most Kashmiri Pandits and their children have moved on (and that is not to deny the grave injustice they have suffered), hatred will be ignited in their next generation and the wound kept festering. Party interest has clearly overtaken national interest — keeping hatred of the minority community alive also keeps politics that thrives on it flourishing. The people of J&K have the ability to see this but common sense seems an uncommon resource amongst those lapping up the hatred in the rest of India.

(The writer is an independent journalist based in Delhi. He was in J&K recently)