A full 32 years after a deluge of threats and murders swept me off my moorings and I lost my home in Kashmir, the country is convulsed in passions, sympathy, and indignation about the monumental wrongs done to my minuscule community. It has taken a film to excavate the truth of my dispossession and get my fellow citizens talking. How I have waited for years for this moment to arrive!
As a first-generation victim of forced displacement, I ask a simple question: Just when will sanity return to my Valley? And, am I any closer to reclaiming my home and my roots now.
The road to permanent peace in India runs through Kashmir. That peace has remained hostage to international intrigue, fuelled by unkept promises of progress and fed on the fault-lines of religion.
For me, it is not about Hindus and Muslims. Not entirely at any rate. It never was. At its core are our mutual hyper insecurities vis-a-vis each other as neighbors. It is about two nuclear-tipped states at war with each other. No more, no less. Reconciliation needs another mindset. It needs complete consensus on a grand bargain among the opposites. The consensus that pre-supposes that acceptance of culpability by either side will not equal capitulation.
In the film, or in person, the time to talk is now. Warped and one-sided hysteria prompted by The Kashmir Files is welcome but only as part of a genuine desire to restore equilibrium to a conversation that is seen and sold as having been one-sided so far, favoring the discredited votaries of secularists in retreat.
Mr. Agnihotri has created an opening. It is upon the Prime Minister of our country to seize the initiative by stamping his most confident, statesman-like persona by curating a new culture of conversations for truth and reconciliation to take center stage in Kashmir.
I desire nothing more than peace for myself and my brothers and sisters of the Kashmiri Pandit community. The way to that peace is through what I may call the whole-of-the-wound approach. Our wounds of separation are open and festering. And so are theirs.
When the politics of our land mature in a way that it does not need the crutches of hypernationalism to stand on, when polities and politics across the borders are united and reorganized along with an overweening desire for progress and peace on both sides, when the political economy of destabilization favors none, and when boots return to barracks, will I return and truly reclaim my land.
It is a long shot, as distant from reach as it has always been. For now, I have to be content with getting my due in the sun thanks to the brave efforts of a filmmaking couple who have gotten their hands dirty in The Kashmir Files.