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Open Letter to Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Hello VVC,

I see that your movie, Shikara, is nearing its release. While I wish you luck for your endeavour because it is based on an extremely significant event in the stretch of post-Independent India, an event that desperately needs much more attention than what it has garnered since its occurrence, I do take serious offence to certain things you spoke in an interview on a news channel.

This is what you said: “This film is really about healing, it is about coming together, it is about really saying ‘OK 30 years, too long, let’s say sorry and move on. It’s like how when two friends have a little fallout, but they love each other, and thirty years later they meet and they say, you know, forget it, I’m sorry and the other guy says I’m sorry and they move on.”

Of course I haven’t seen the movie – no one has – and so, for me to comment on what it actually is will be highly premature and illogical. But I write expressing my anger and anguish solely on what you said.

You said one should say sorry and move on. You specifically said both ‘guys’ should say sorry. Who are these two entities? Muslims of the Valley and Pandits? Pakistan (who was involved in the exodus through its covert plans) and Pandits? Who exactly? 

If you are genuinely aware of what happened in Jammu and Kashmir, then you must know that the ones who ought to say sorry and feel a seething remorse and act in penance are those locals and people in the state and central governments during that ominous phase who allowed and even abetted in the genocide and exodus. For what should the ‘other guy’ – presumably the Pandits – say sorry? For losing their homes? For having the innocence of their children and the sanctity of their women breached with impunity? For believing that locals will stand with them if they face any problem only to be shown the door when extremists came drooling for their lives?

You went on to call the episode a ‘little fallout’ between friends. Are you serious? (I’ll go with a single ‘are you serious?’ because I really mean it unlike Robert Vadra who did it for theatrics). Lakhs of Pandits who were forced out of their homeland have been living in penury and unthinkable conditions in various cities for decades. Is this what a ‘friend’ does to another? And is this your definition of a ‘little fallout’?

You’re asking people involved in the exodus to ‘forget’ and ‘move on’. Will those responsible for the mass crime – both silently and explicitly – ‘move on’, recall the Pandits, and help with their rehabilitation? It is quite shocking that you ask the victims to say sorry and forget and move on. Do you mean to say that justice isn’t what they deserve or what they ought to strive for?

There is much more I can write. But I’ve made my point, I believe. I’ll leave you with two things – some names (I hope you know about them) and, an excerpt from ‘My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir’ by Jagmohan.

First, the names. Satish Tikoo. N.K. Ganju. Tikka Lal Taploo. P.N. Bhat.

And now the excerpt (I bet you didn’t know of this):

I went on working in the Secretariat and returned to Raj Bhawan late in the evening. The night that followed was the strangest night that I have ever lived. Hardly had I gone to bed when the two telephones at my bedside started ringing, almost continuously. At the other end, there were voices of alarm, of concern, of fright, sometimes muted voices of men too terror-stricken to speak. “Tonight is our last night,” moaned one voice. “By morning, we – all Kashmiri Pandits – would be butchered,” said another voice. “Send us aeroplanes, take us out of the Valley; evacuate us at night if you do not want to see the corpses in the morning,” pleaded another. “Our womenfolk, our sisters, our mothers, would be abducted, and we menfolk slaughtered,” shrieked another voice.

Friends? Little fallout? Forget? Say sorry? I don’t think so. Introspect on what you said? DEFINITELY.


Vinayak Jain

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