January 07, 2016

India: Kashmiri Pandits Are a Pawn in the Games of Hindutva Forces (Nitasha Kaul)

I recently appeared on the Al Jazeera Head to Head programme where I was a panellist for Mehdi Hasan’s interview of BJP/RSS veteran Ram Madhav. Among the topics discussed (relating to the BJP/RSS ideology of Hindutva), was the issue of Kashmir. I am a Kashmiri woman, a feminist, author of a novel called Residue (with Kashmiri protagonists), and an academic who has, for over a decade and a half, worked on issues of identity, political economy, Kashmir and Bhutan.

So, here’s my question – in contemporary Indian discourse, what does it mean for a Kashmiri Pandit woman to speak in non-communal terms about the history and politics of Kashmir? Like the eminent Malayalam critic stopped from writing on Ramayana because he was reduced to being “just a Muslim”, it means – in the climate of communalism – I can only be KP in the sense of “Kashmiri Pandit”, but not Kashmiri and Proud, or Kashmiri and Progressive.

As soon as I mentioned the internationally well-documented travesty of justice in Kashmir (militarisation, extra-judicial killings, rapes, enforced disappearances, draconian legislation such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA), a fellow panellist on the show — academic Gautam Sen, a former spokesman, Overseas Friends of the BJP — accused me of being a “representative of the Pakistani Embassy”, a shockingly defamatory remark for which he refused to apologise. I objected to this, pointing out that this was about human rights and he would know my stance on Balochistan if we were discussing Pakistan. And before I had a chance to complete my intervention, Ram Madhav said that he expected me to focus on Kashmiri Hindus, to which I replied that all Kashmiris have suffered, regardless of their religion.

see full text here: http://thewire.in/2016/01/07/kashmiri-pandits-are-a-pawn-in-the-games-of-hindutva-forces-18690/