Anaahat Naad

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Posts Tagged ‘Baramulla

Book Review: Our Moon Has Blood Clots

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Rahul Pandita’s book Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits narrates the displacement of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir valley. It is the account of an ethnic community that was forced to leave home and hearth behind and take refuge in an unknown land. The book describes the ethnic cleansing of Pandits from Kashmir at the behest of Islamic extremists/terrorists.

Our Moon Has Blood Clots

Our Moon Has Blood Clots is a memoir of Rahul Pandita who was fourteen years old when he had to leave his home in Srinagar along with his family. The book brings forth the untold story of Kashmiri Pandits who became refugees in their own country. The book begins with author’s initial days in Srinagar and life in Kashmir. Then it describes the changes in aura of the valley ─ India-West Indies international cricket match in 1983 where the crowd cheered for Pakistan and Indian players faced severe harassment; the chants of ‘Allah Hu Akbar’ on streets when Pakistan defeated India at Sharjah in the final of Austral-Asia Cup in 1986; the threats to Kashmiri Pandits via notices, pamphlets, mosque loudspeakers, street processions.
The changed scenario subsequently led to selective killing of Kashmiri Pandits, rapes of innocent Pandit women and resulted in the displacement of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley. Rahul Pandita’s book also touches upon the 1947 tribal raid in Kashmir in the voice of his maternal uncle. The author’s maternal grandfather along with his family had to leave Baramulla due to the tribal raid.

The book debunks the lies regarding the exodus of Pandits. The most widespread untruth is that the exodus of Pandits was a ploy by Government of India through Jagmohan, then the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, to defame the so-called freedom struggle (which is nothing but a struggle for an Islamic state). The author gives the horrendous account of murders of some Kashmiri Pandits by the militants in 1990s. The book also nails the lie that those Kashmiri Pandits who stayed back in the valley (and didn’t leave) were not harmed. In this regard, he met Vinod Dhar who is the lone survivor of 1998 Wandhama massacre in which 23 Kashmiri Pandits were brutally killed.

Rahul Pandita’s memoir makes the reader feel the pain and suffering which Kashmiri Pandits have been through. It evokes anger at the failure of the Indian state in protecting its own people. Pandita’s book tells of the betrayal by the majority community of Kashmir (i.e. Kashmiri Muslims) who were so enamoured with ‘azadi’ that they chose to support gun culture over the people (i.e. Kashmiri Pandits).

Though Rahul Pandita visited Kashmir regularly as a journalist, it was only in September 2007 that he managed a visit to his ‘home’ along with his two journalist friends and found that it was not the same anymore. It was a house built with the provident fund savings of his father and the bridal jewellery of his mother. The author feels helpless when he finds someone else living in his house and he has to seek permission to enter it.

The book tries to break the silence in the socio-political discourse over the ethnic cleansing and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. In the discourse regarding Kashmir conflict, the high-handedness of Indian state and the alleged human rights abuses by Indian security forces are debated but not what happened to Kashmiri Pandits. As the author rightly says, it has become unfashionable to speak about the issue of Kashmiri Pandit refugees. Rahul Pandita’s book sets right the narrative in this context.

I had a lump in my throat while reading the book. There are heartbreaking passages in the book where I could not control my tears. Our Moon Has Blood Clots is not the story of Rahul Pandita alone but the story of every single Kashmiri Pandit who encountered terror in Kashmir. It is the story of the innocent people who were raped, killed and assaulted by terrorists leading to their tragic exodus. It is noteworthy that despite all odds, the Kashmiri Pandit community never espoused violent methods for their struggle for reclamation of their ancestral homeland.

Rahul Pandita describes the pain and agony of Kashmiri Pandits in a very lucid manner without mincing words. Pandita’s book is an extremely poignant account of Hindus of Kashmir who are still living in exile in their own country. The book is a must read for those who don’t know what happened to minority community of Kashmir valley and also for those who continue to be in denial about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.

(Originally published in Niti Central and The Pioneer)


Written by Varad Sharma

February 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm

No big fuss over the win!

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The ongoing Panchayat polls in J&K, which were held after a decade in 2001, have been a success with around 80 percent of people turning out to vote, exceeding the polling percentage in the 2008 Assembly polls which was around 60 percent. The valley people have defied the diktat of Separatists who as always are against democratic process of elections.

Asha Jee, a Kashmiri Pandit woman won the Panchayat elections from north Kashmir’s Wussan Village in Baramulla district, becoming the first KP woman to win a Panchayat election. The population of the village is around 1,000 of which just 11 are KPs.  Asha Jee defeated her lone rival candidate Sarwa Begum by 11 votes. Asha Jee, a mother of two, is basically from Doda district (Jammu Divison) and married Radha Krishan Bhat in 1984. Asha’s elder son, Suresh Kumar, works as a constable in the Jammu & Kashmir police while her younger son, Ashok, helps his father in their grocery store.

Without undermining the victory of minority in the Panchayat elections, the post-victory narration is not appropriate. A minority candidate winning has hardly changed the internal problems of Kashmir valley. Some sections are portraying this victory as change of situation in the valley and it is being depicted as a move towards ‘normalcy’. Projection of this victory as a picture of communal harmony and brotherhood in the entire valley would be naive. Some sections are taking this victory as conducive situation for return of Pandits. The protests in 2008 over temporary allotment of land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and the summer unrest of 2010 can’t be ignored.

Since 1990, Kashmiri Pandits have hardly been in the political arena of the Kashmir valley. From the last two decades, Kashmiri Pandit votes are scattered. Pandits are unable to cast their votes as they are living in exile at different places in India. And now the situation is that Kashmiri Pandits don’t even know who the elected representatives from their constituencies are whether MLA, MLC or MP.

Kashmiri Pandits who once controlled the destiny of this country have suddenly gone into political oblivion. No political party has thought of giving representation to the intellectual community of Kashmiri Pandits whether Congress or BJP. There used to be Kashmiri Pandits in the parliament – Shiv Narayan Fotedar, Shyam Lal Saraf, Tirath Ram Amla, DP Dhar, and Makhan Lal Fotedar. In present times, there is none. Kashmiri Pandits have been marginalised in the political affairs of the valley also. There was time when Pandits have had their share in the political affairs of the J&K State. At one point of time, Prime Minster of Jammu & Kashmir was Kashmiri Pandit, Ram Chandra Kak. And today there is no minister from Pandit community, not even Pandit MLA in the state government. Political empowerment of Kashmiri Pandits is necessary for bringing the change on ground. As Kashmiri Pandits are living in exile, they would need more representation in Parliament/Assembly now so that their plight can be focused. Mere win by a Pandit woman in Panchayat Election is not a big deal.

Also, elections have never illustrated the clear picture of prevalent scenario in valley though no doubt people have participated in huge numbers in recent times. It would be childish to take this one victory by minority as signs of change in the entire Kashmir valley. It is a welcoming step that majority population of Wussan village elected a candidate irrespective of the religion. But generalizing this trend through the valley may not be appropriate. Congratulations to brave Pandit woman for winning the election and applauds to the people of Wussan village. But don’t make a big fuss over this win!

Written by Varad Sharma

May 15, 2011 at 11:30 am