Anaahat Naad

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Posts Tagged ‘Srinagar

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)

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Written by Varad Sharma

February 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Politics over Tricolour

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Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah recent warning to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over flag hoisting at Lal Chowk (Srinagar) has created a furore. Omar’s statements have not gone well with nationalists. Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) has organized “Rashtriya Ekta Yatra” which begins from Kolkata on 12th January and end up at Kashmir on 26th January. The rally will pass from 11 states covering distance of 3002.54 kilometres. BJP has launched this rally as part of national sovereignty campaign.

Omar Abdullah didn’t issue any warnings when some fundamentalists have hoisted Pakistani flag at Lal Chowk, Srinagar last summer during Intifada. The hoisting of Pakistani flag is not new in Kashmir. The supporters of Independent Kashmir ‘Azaadiwaalahs’ and those who support Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, have waved Pakistani flag during their protest against Indian State. Nobody has ever questioned such incidents of waving of Pakistani flag. The Indian Government as well as J&K State Government has always kept silence over such anti-nationalistic activities.

We can’t ignore BJP’s political motive behind such rally. BJP is using nationalism as a political tool to evolve as strong political party at the central level. Same is the case with Omar Abdullah who is heading coalition government of National Conference & Indian National Congress. The basis behind Omar Abdullah’s remarks may be to keep the vote-bank intact in the Kashmir valley. The reason of security concerns is an excuse made by Omar.

The hoisting of national tricolour at historic Lal Chowk will give strong message to communal separatist forces in the valley that are always busy in keeping Kashmir on edge. If Omar Abdullah wants to defeat separatist elements, he must ensure that Indian flag be hoisted at Lal Chowk, Srinagar. Also, J&K Government must provide security cover to all those people who are coming to hoist the flag so as to prevent any unwanted activity.

It seems that majority people of Kashmir have some problem with national tricolour or maybe they are scared of it. This ‘tricolour phobia’ needs to be removed in Kashmir.
And irony is that hoisting of flag has now become an issue in India. Our national flag is caught in between dirty politics.

I wish national tricolour is hoisted in every hook and corner of Kashmir Valley on 61st Republic Day!

Written by Varad Sharma

January 7, 2011 at 1:00 am

Kashmir – A Train Conversation

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It was 2025 hrs and the “special” train was about to leave the station.  And the conversation picked up as soon as the train left the station.  Mr. A had been stalking Mr. B for long.  I guess he felt some connect.  Or maybe the fairer complexion of Mr. B just made him curious.

Mr. A:  Are you from Kashmir?

Mr. B: Yes. I am a Kashmiri Pandit. (He could feel the pride of being one)

Mr. A:  Where are you from Kashmir?

Mr. B:  Anantnag

This definitely irritated Mr. A.  No-one says Anantnag now.  He was bound to react.

Mr. A:  Okay Islamabad

Anantnag is town in South Kashmir.  The area was land of springs, hence “Anant”- “Infinite” and “Nag” – “Springs”.  The name was changed to Islamabad by Moghuls after the name of a Moghul General Islam Khan.  But most Kashmiris preferred Anantnag, after it was changed back to its original name by the Dogra rulers. 

Mr. B (very firmly): No, Anantnag

Mr. A maybe got irritated but he didn’t press the topic any further. But, he wanted to probe more.

Mr. B:  Where are you from?

Mr. A:  I am from Lal Chowk, Srinagar and do business at Connaught Place, New Delhi.

Mr A:  How old are you?

Mr B:  I am 23 years old. 

He had lied. He was born post the exodus of the Pandits from the valley.

Mr. A:  So you were a toddler in 1990?

Mr. B: Yes

Mr. A:  Are you willing to return to the valley?

Mr. B: Yes, but present conditions aren’t suitable.

Mr. A:  But, you are settled in Jammu (It meant, YOU HAVE MOVED ON!)

Mr. B (very firmly):  Kashmir is in our heart. In every heart-beat, there is Kashmir. We can never ever forget Kashmir.

Mr B ignored him after this question. Maybe he didn’t want to converse with some-one who was living in self denial.  But he kept on thinking did Mr. A forget that Mr B. and his kind had left Kashmir even though they were settled.  And they had left is for the seventh time and have come back each time in the past.  Was Mr. A ignorant of the fact that many KMs are moving out for better future, and many are buying properties in Jammu and “settling” there.

Every time I have a conversation on Kashmir, I get extremely emotional. My mind is full of questions.

When will I return to my home? But bigger question is, will my return be without any fear of attack on my existence. At the same time felt for him – my fellow Kashmiri. I felt for his self denial of many issues. Will he ever accept the truth?

For these questions, I don’t have answers.

But one thing I know for sure, I will RETURN!

Written by Varad Sharma

October 31, 2010 at 11:00 am

No stones, books only

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Kashmir is stoning. The stone pelting ‘Kani Jung’ has become prominent in the valley. Stone-pelting or ‘Kani Jung’ is not new to Kashmir. Its origin dates back to the Mughal rule in 16th century. The last independent ruler of Kashmir, Yusuf Shah Chak, was dethroned by Mughals. After Mughals successfully invaded Kashmir, Kashmiris would throw stones at Mughal soldiers. In recent history, stone was an instrument of protest. Stone throwing was involved whenever there was fight between Sheikh Abdullah’s supporters and followers of Mirwaiz Muhammad Yusuf Shah (grandfather of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq), the two arch rival political groups in Srinagar city.

In the past few years’ stone throwing has gained momentum in the valley. The protests, strikes, killings etc. has paralysed the life in the valley. Life in the valley is totally messed up. The valley is full of stones from all sides. Life is crippled due to these strikes, stone-pelting etc. The strike diktats issued by separatists & like-minded people have affected the lives of common people. And the most affected ones are children of valley.

The children are most suffered ones in the valley. They can’t go to schools due to these anti-social protests and stone-pelting. The insane leaders are giving orders to parents to restrain their children from going to schools. Instead of pen, books & toys, the kids are given stones. What has happened to civil society in Kashmir? How can they allow their kids to go on streets for protests and stone-throwing? These separatists don’t care for the education of young people in the valley. Their so called ‘Azaadi’ is much more important than anything else. They are busy in instigating violence. They never cared about the lives of people in the valley. These protests will not yield anything for the innocent children. And separatists are busy in revising the calendars for strikes/protests. Now it seems that stones have become the toys of young ones of the valley unwillingly.

The saddest part is that in these protests/stone-pelting, the young children have lost their lives. My heart bleeds whenever I hear the news of deaths of young children. These children don’t even know the meaning of so called ‘Azaadi’. These kids have nothing to do with ‘Azaadi’. Children of the valley need books and not stones. I pray to God that normalcy returns in valley very soon and no more deaths of young children.

(Published in Shehjar)

Written by Varad Sharma

August 1, 2010 at 12:30 am