by DP Satish
February 1, 2013 4:53 pm
The untold story of Kashmiri Pandits, refugees in their own homeland.
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are outraged as those who are.” ~Benjamin Franklin
Journalist Rahul Pandita’s book “Our Moon has Blood Clots” makes you angry about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, refugees in their own homeland. As eminent historian Ramachandra Guha says, “This book throws new light on one of the most tragic conflicts in the modern world. Every paragraph of this compelling memoir rings true”.
Pandita’s book exposes the hypocrisy of a ‘secular’ democracy, its intellectual class, its candle light brigade, its bleeding heart activists and, above all, its silent majority. Now 36, Pandita was forced to leave his home town of Srinagar, capital of Kashmir, when he was just 14. That was in 1990. With separatist militancy on the rise, Kashmiri Pandits, who constitute less than five percent of Kashmir’s total population, became homeless in the harsh winter that year.
It has taken 20 years for this story to emerge. The world is being fed stories about the region’s separatist aspirations and the Indian Army’s brutality, but the Pandits’ story had remained untold till now. Kashmiri Pandits, mostly middle-class, educated, hardworking and peaceful community (the only Hindus in Muslim-dominated Kashmir), were driven out of their ancestral homes in less than three months in the early 1990s.
Pandita narrates stories of the brutal genocide orchestrated by Islamist militants in the Kashmir valley. The cruelty of the attacks sometimes brings to mind what happened to the Jews in Europe, the Christians in Armenia, and people of Indian origin under the Ugandan regime of Idi Amin. Pandita’s heart-wrenching personal account shows how opinion makers made no effort to avert the tragedy. Human rights activists, international peace-makers, public intellectuals, politicians, and even journalists from the ‘mainstream’ media went about as if the problem did not exist. Pandita surmises they looked away because talking about the lynching of Kashmiri Pandits might have made them look less ‘secular’.