It is unbelievable that we know so little about the scale of this exodus and genocide that destroyed the lives of half a million people. It is unbelievable how those of us who did know a little via the small amount of news coverage it got once in a while did not hold our elected government accountable.
We did not ask them how an entire community became refugees in their own country overnight and continues to be so even now – 31 years later. It is unbelievable how little we know about our history, not just the recent past of the Kashmiri Pandits but even our ancient past.
Why? Because we have been taught a different version over generations. A version where we were the losers. The conquered. The subjugated. Slowly teaching us that this is what we deserved, this is what we’ve always been, second-class citizens in our own land. The physical destruction started by the Mughals was enhanced by the psychological destruction by the British.
Coming back to the film, it is an excellent film. An extremely disturbing one, but this is the bitter medicine we Bharatiyas must swallow if we are to heal. A film that anyone who considers themselves a Bharatiya must watch. Anyone who claims to love this land, its languages, and its culture must watch to understand, recognize and comprehend that there are malicious minds who wish to destroy it. If I had to critique, there are just two things. One, the ending speech could have been stronger, a more focussed telling of the past history, which the protagonist does to some extent but could have been better organized. It could have had a sharper question-answer interaction with the audience to systematically address the usual fake narratives. Also, a more focused telling of the protagonist’s own personal story could have helped. There was some of it, but it felt a bit disjointed. People can contest past history but personal experiences, lived experiences, cannot be brushed aside so easily. Two, a small scrolling note at the end, telling, in brief, the story of that particular village, could have helped viewers connect the film to reality in a more solid way. This is done in many films that show true events.
We owe it to ourselves to start learning what school never taught us, to now take up the effort to start reading the real history and reconnect with our languages, traditions, and customs. To make at least some effort to study and understand our rituals before discarding them as mere superstition. We owe at least that much to traditions that have withstood the test of time for thousands of years.
Studying our history will not teach hate, as is often the excuse given to not tell the truth. The Kashmiri Pandits are proof of this, for even after enduring the worst possible fate, not one has taken up arms; not one has indulged in hate speeches against the cowards that used weapons to attack the very people who were their friends, neighbors, and teachers. There is tremendous power in being on the side of truth. And while justice may be delayed, it will be served – for truth always triumphs. This is the teaching of Sanatana Dharma that has given strength to Bharat for countless centuries. It is the reason why we have endured as a civilization.
We must reconnect with our past. We owe it to our children so they may take pride in who they are, for they are the inheritors of the world’s most ancient and noble ideology.