PROFESSOR M.M. ANSARI, former Interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, member University Grants Commission, and Central Information Commissioner, was Director of Distance Education Council, IG National Open University and Hamdard University; Senior Economist, FICCI; Director (Research), AIU; Fellow, NUEPA, and Consultant, Planning Commission of India. Prof. Ansari is an economist and education specialist. He was Member of international teams for accomplishment of Education Sector Reform Project, Government of Mauritius, the World Bank; Bihar Education Project, UNICEF; and Human Resource Development in Federated States of Micronesia, Asian Development Bank. In an interview with MOHD NAUSHAD KHAN, he said, Issues relating to Kashmiris sell very well in the national discourse and elections, which is why Kashmir is mentioned in every political campaign. The filmmakers have exploited the environment of communal hatred deliberately promoted by the ruling dispensation for polarisation of communities.
What is your take on the film ‘The Kashmir Files’?
Promoting communal hatred is the main plank and theme of the film. In a dialogue, the leading actor Anupam Kher says that the frequently raised slogan of Azadi (freedom) means the call for terrorism. Clearly, messaging is disrespectful of contrarian voices from a section of people.
Issues relating to Kashmiris sell very well in the national discourse and elections, which is why Kashmir is mentioned in every political campaign. The film is based on the plight of Kashmiri pandits (KPs), who along with others have suffered due to misgovernance and turmoil in J&K. The filmmakers have exploited the environment of communal hatred deliberately promoted by the ruling dispensation for polarisation of communities.
The filmmakers mischievously distort the history of Kashmir as the film is silent on the role of two-time Governor Jagmohan, who, in a short span of two years, sacked the governments of Farooq Abdullah in 1984 and GM Shah in 1986. During the central rule, there was communal riots in 1986 and the administration facilitated Kashmiri pandits exodus rather than providing them with security, in 1989 and 1990.
What would be the likely socio-political impact of the film in and out of Kashmir?
Well, the film will promote and perpetuate communal divide, which in turn will diminish the chances of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) going back to their homeland because Kashmiri Muslims are demonised in the film to create further animosity.
While some people are misled on ideological grounds by showing the crimes against KPs perpetrated by the militants, the people in the Valley are unhappy as the film does not reveal and tell their side of story, mainly use of brutal force against the local Kashmiris and failings of the central government in providing the needed security protection. The message of the film is to perpetuate communal divide everywhere and to polarise people as intended by the governments that have made it tax-free.
Many people are of the belief that this film will further strengthen the narrative of hate prevalent in the country and politically motivated?
Yes, I agree that the contents of the film and the timing chosen by the filmmakers, most of whom are associated with the ruling party, are politically motivated to promote communal hatred that helps them in winning elections and retaining power.
Do you believe that central and state governments have addressed the Kashmiri exodus issue in the desired manner or used it more politically?
The issue of KPs exodus has not been addressed as per the wishes and aspirations of the migrants. Promises made to them by the government have been belied.
In fact, turmoil in Kashmir has always been exploited by the ideologically driven political parties for polarisation during elections. The root cause of the Kashmir uprising mainly lack of effective democratic governance, which has led to human rights violations and mass exodus of all the communities must be addressed.
As told to me in a personal conversation with the then J&K Governor Jagmohan, KPs exodus was facilitated with a view to getting a free hand to cleanse the Valley from the influence of separatist leaders. He said that the loudspeakers from Mosques were misused by militants for disseminating misinformation. He therefore ordered for disconnection of supply of electricity to the Mosques, which led to mass agitation by Kashmiris.
Governor Jagmohan had planned to quickly and temporarily evict KPs to carry out a thorough search operation for nabbing all the militants. Buses were accordingly arranged for outmigration of KPs who could not be provided security in the milieu of deteriorating law and order situation in the state. But, within six months of his second tenure as Governor, he was removed by the central government in May 1990 which is why he could neither complete his mission of cleansing the state from militancy nor the evicted KPs could be brought back, he said.
Sadly, the successive governments have merely been shedding crocodile tears on the issue of rehabilitation of KPs. As on today, nothing stops them from going back to their roots but there are no economic opportunities. And security issue lingers on till a sustainable peace is restored.
What according to you should have been the approach of the governments to address the Kashmiri pandits issue?
Well, in my view KPs are politically empowered and an enlightened community who should be engaged in finding an acceptable solution. The government has provided financial support, reservations in jobs and educational institutions as well as subsidy for building houses in J&K. Justice must be done to all those who have similarly suffered due to Kashmir turmoil. Amicable relations between the communities must be promoted. Politics of hate must be given up and condemned, as a requirement for co-existence of different communities.
Do you believe the Kashmiri pandits is looked through different prism as compared to other exodus issues in various parts of India?
Beginning from the Nehruvian era till the rule of Rajiv Gandhi, KPs leadership was largely associated with the Congress Party. KPs leaderships have been at the helm of national affairs. After nineties, most KPs have drifted towards the ruling BJP, which is why the central government is very sympathetic to them without being helpful to resettle them in Kashmir. Unfortunately, all those who have suffered due to communal disturbances in Delhi, Gujarat and UP; and are still living in tents, have not received similar treatment as KPs that indicates deliberate discrimination by the government. Justice must be done to all those who are victims of communal violence.
Many experts are of the opinion that the film should have focussed more on the social concerns of Kashmiri pandits, togetherness of the people of J&K instead of giving more space to hate and animosity?
The film has succeeded in its objective of demonising Kashmiri Muslims, promoting communal hatred and making huge business by misleading innocent movie lovers. The filmmakers have attempted to cover up failings of the government in maintaining communal harmony and for restoring durable peace in Kashmir. The film does not provide a roadmap or any clue as to how justice could be meted out to Kashmiri Pandits.