Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri

Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits Rahul Pandita was fourteen years old inwhen he was forced to leave his home in Srinagar along with his family, who were Kashmiri Pandits the Hindu minority within a Muslim majority Kashmir that was becoming increasingly agitated with the cries of Azadi from India The heartbreaking story of Kashmir has so far been told through the prism of the brutality of the Indian state, and the pro independence demands of separatists But there is another part of the story that has remained unrecorded and buried Our Moon Has Blood Clots is the unspoken chapter in the story of Kashmir, in which it was purged of the Kashmiri Pandit community in a violent ethnic cleansing backed by Islamist militants Hundreds of people were tortured and killed, and about ,, Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homes and spend the rest of their lives in exile in their own country Rahul Pandita has written a deeply personal, powerful and unforgettable story of history, home and loss


10 thoughts on “Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits

  1. says:

    I lie in my bed Turn the last page of the book Gently put it down on the side Infuriated and devastated Immobility seeps in Disillusionment Close my eyes in defiance of the world around me No In hopelessness No In anger Give up Deep breath Reminisce about MY home That mango tree in the backyard because it s summer The weight of raw mangoes is too much for it to bear so it sheds a few in the night and stands tall each morning as if it knows nothing about the bed of green sprawled a I lie in my bed Turn the last page of the book Gently put it down on the side Infuriated and devastated Immobility seeps in Disillusionment Close my eyes in defiance of the world around me No In hopelessness No In anger Give up Deep breath Reminisce about MY home That mango tree in the backyard because it s summer The weight of raw mangoes is too much for it to bear so it sheds a few in the night and stands tall each morning as if it knows nothing about the bed of green sprawled at its feet Me and my brother eat a few and collect the rest Ma prepares pickle Indelible taste of hot and sweet and sour and spicy Home Smile Open eyes See the darkness of the illuminated world But something is different now A tiny flame sits hidden somewhere, but the light it emits gives it awayHopeWrapped in a polythene, tucked away safe in my minda little goodbye, maybe, or just a passing smile In 1985 86, Muslim militants in the valley of Kashmir, India, systematically initiated their assault on the Religious minority called Kashmiri Pandits which led to an exodus of approx 3.5 lakh of them from the so called Heaven on earth Kashmir Approx 700 were killed, numerous women were abducted or raped or both Why The religious majority i.e Muslims wanted Kashmir to be an independent state, or as another theory goes, they wanted it to be a part of Pakistan and not India But in either case, why would they want to banish a significant minority What harm was it doing Why were the slogans of Pakistan Zindabad, Long live Pakistan, chanted after India s loss in a cricket match Why were the houses of Pandits pelted with stones on their religious festivals Why were their women made to cover their heads in public Why were slogans like Flee, Convert or Die constantly heard from Mosques The list of Why s goes on But the biggest question remains that Why the administration slept through the whole episode and even today turn a blind eye towards the welfare of Kashmiri Pandits This memoir is written by the renown journalist Rahul Pandita whose 14yrs self lay frightened to death in arms of his father on the night of January 19th, 1990 in the house that his father had built using his Provident Fund and his wife s jewelry His father who was his Hero could not even whisper words of assurances to his family midst the crescendo of war cries emanating from the mosques surrounding their house and inspite of Border Security Force camp being just on their back side Somehow when dawn killed the dark, they took a breath of relief and decided to stay in Kashmir as long as they could because after all it was home But inevitably, they had to leave their 22 room house and live a life of refugees in Jammu in abysmal circumstances The birds fly away to the southern sky searching a homea bunch o paper flowers, or a little boy left all aloneCan somebody hear me, I m screamin from so far awaymorning who ll calm you,now the evening s eclipsed again This untold reality is extremely important because it does not speak of Pandita s family alone or their sufferings, which perhaps are minuscule as compared to some of their fellow Pandits , but also to a large extent of a bigger picture which kills many fake and forged stories circulated to cover the existing reality and change the history as it happened People can still argue upon authenticity of the voice of Pandita I give them that But, how can you refute the fact that families of Kashmiri Pandits did exile Exiled from their homes where their ancestors lived for thousands of years Exiled from their roots Exiled from their friends and families Exiled from their hearts and souls Exiled from trust What saddens me most is not the gut wrenching story of the exodus, but the hearts which get cold in the name of religion and humanity becomes just another meaningless word.Pandita quotes one of the distressed women living today in a Refugee Camp in the Valley Each day we leave behind something of our identity Yesterday, it was the freedom to sing the National Anthem today it is the freedom to wear a bindi tomorrow it could be our faith Well does life get any betterMore yesterday than todayHow I thought the sun would shine tomorrowBut it rained The lines quoted are from the song But It Rained by the band Parikrama


  2. says:

    After false starting writing a review of this book so many times, I somehow get past the anxiety of saying what I wanted to say Say it here.And with a simple hope, of someone picking up this book and reading it Not because of this review only, but because of this review too.The inheritance of voidThe moment I looked back for the first time to call some place my home A home where I inherited belongings of my father, who inherited those from his, and was faced with a void Still etched in my me After false starting writing a review of this book so many times, I somehow get past the anxiety of saying what I wanted to say Say it here.And with a simple hope, of someone picking up this book and reading it Not because of this review only, but because of this review too.The inheritance of voidThe moment I looked back for the first time to call some place my home A home where I inherited belongings of my father, who inherited those from his, and was faced with a void Still etched in my memory Of stories that I would have heard from my grandmother, if she wouldn t have fled the valley, where she toiled hard to raise her five daughters Of photographs, that remain just that Snapshots of people who aren t alive any Of places that aren t the same any Of snow that isn t so pristine any And of my search of blood in there, that was not shed when I could realize what bloodshed was An year or two , I was when we too fled the Heaven on Earth This strikes me as I write it, the irony of fleeing heaven Of gathering as much one would for a month long stay away from home After all how impossible it is to realize, that you are leaving your home, the place of your birth, the place that is only is your home, is worthy to be called heaven just for that reason Yet, this book made me thin of that This book, told me of things, that my parents don t deem necessary any.Living within the voidAnd so I gather again the things that I have inherited A lack of home, a lack of time with my closed ones, a lack of belonging An abundance of anxiety, an abundance of rootlessness, an abundance of what is not there any It died before I was born It died during my parent s lifetimes We live on I live on How do I miss, that which I never felt A place to call my own, isn t a place any And so, I don t dream of it So, I think it is for my parents, I guess But they would have witnessed, this death in a slow, cold manner Days going by, lacking of hope Hoping to be greeted by a phone call, a welcome home But, instead hearing of the house torched The home they lived in is still alive Even if smoldering I get a glimpse , a random evening with a story my mother shares when she is in her elements.I cannot imagine their pain And I have stopped trying to To someone who has realized that we are guests here on this planet earth, homeland is just another word But what in spite of all futility still I treasure is the glitter in my mother s eyes when she speaks of her home Heaven on Earth is not a geographical place any It just exists in memories, photographs and conversations taking place at the funerals of those who lived there.Recent Edit January 19,2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the ValleyMy story is not about the loss of material goods it is about the pain of carrying memories http www.thehindu.com opinion op ed


  3. says:

    It was a heart wrenching book This is the book of the period, in which India, as a civilization, faced existential crisis, where it became a sin to be a Hindu, and traitors organised a deadly Holocaust Thank you author for bringing to light the suffering of a community that was completely ignored Even now whenever it is mentioned it is to compare it with some other tragedy and not on independent terms The liberals use it as a point to argue upon but no one has done anything for the communi It was a heart wrenching book This is the book of the period, in which India, as a civilization, faced existential crisis, where it became a sin to be a Hindu, and traitors organised a deadly Holocaust Thank you author for bringing to light the suffering of a community that was completely ignored Even now whenever it is mentioned it is to compare it with some other tragedy and not on independent terms The liberals use it as a point to argue upon but no one has done anything for the community 27 years on they are still waiting for justice The book gives a closer look and a first person perspective of what happens when a particular community gets outnumbered when the demographic upperhand is with the Abrahamics It also puts forward the aftermath of the Kashmiri exodus and gives a closer look of the life and conditions through which the pandits have lived and survived through The details of the killings are a bit disturbing but it does give a clearer understanding of what the way they were driven out of their homes which no choice other than fleeing Not only did they loose their homes, their work and occupation but a part of themselves.None of the pseudo secular raised their cries for their human rights violation The religious bigotry which compelled Kashmiri Pandits to flee from their homes makes it evident that the political leadership use the terms of secularism and religious tolerance only to satiate their verbal orgasm.No one will ever know what happened actually in Kashmir with Kashmiri Pandits until they themselves read this book and live the hard truth of our fellow citizens lives It will dissolve all your prejudice Their grievances hardly used to make it to the mainstream It only recently that their suffering has been started to be documented with a much serious level.I have some Kashmiri pandit friends and I salute their resilience Even after being brutalized by the militants, tyrannized by their neighbors of centuries and let down by the apathy of the government they are successful in different fields Hats off to their resilience It is dark, powerful and an eye opener for every Indian, irrespective of his native identities.Must read


  4. says:

    This is a poignant memoir Rahul Pandita grew up Kashmir in the 1990s As his name suggests, he is a Kashmiri Pandit In Kashmir Valley, Muslims are in majority whereas Hindus constitute a small minority The harsh Indian policies against Muslims have not only alienated them they have made Muslims hostile toward Hindu Pandits They see Hindus as stooges of the Indian Govt The situation turned so bad that since the early 1990s Hindu pandits had to leave Kashmir a place that had been their home This is a poignant memoir Rahul Pandita grew up Kashmir in the 1990s As his name suggests, he is a Kashmiri Pandit In Kashmir Valley, Muslims are in majority whereas Hindus constitute a small minority The harsh Indian policies against Muslims have not only alienated them they have made Muslims hostile toward Hindu Pandits They see Hindus as stooges of the Indian Govt The situation turned so bad that since the early 1990s Hindu pandits had to leave Kashmir a place that had been their home for ages All of a sudden, their friends and neighbors turned against them Hindu Pandits have become refugees overnight in their own home country.Rahul Pandita in his memoir records every tiny detail of what he, along with his family, went through One could feel his pain and the hardships his family went through It is really painful when friends become foes, neighbors become strangers However, it would be a folly to think of this as a Hindu Muslim thing It is just that ordinary people when pushed to the wall behave cruelly.This book is also important because the left in India has largely discussed the conflict in the Valley mainly from a Muslim perspective, and somehow maintained silence over the Hindu exodus from the Valley In the last decade, there were powerful novels that came out from Kashmir which dealt with Indian Army s transgressions and brutalities on innocents civilians in Kashmir This is the only book that has looked at the conflict from the point of view of Hindus, and what Muslims have done to its minorities in the region.While I strongly sympathize with Pandita s story, I still feel that historically Pandits have always been privileged They were a minority but a powerful one Their caste based privileges in Kashmir and elsewhere in India are unquestioned While the exodus was doubtless sad and painful, they could still go to other Indian states and assimilate within mainstream Indian society without much fuss However, the same cannot be said about Muslims They are largely seen as traitors, and they face blatant discrimination Therefore, they cannot navigate other Indian states with the similar ease Ironically, it is tough for Muslims in Kashmir, and tougher in other states of the country.What I liked most about the book is about how the Pandita family faced the whole situation I loved reading about Pandita s love for literature, and the unusual choices he made as a young man with regard to his education, and how finally he made a successful career as a journalist in Delhi It is a pity though that his parents could not go back to the Valley I guess the way I read this memoir and some other books written by Kashmiri Muslims, I grapple with the thought that the issue is not about who did what and who suffered the most the issue is that innocent people suffer the most, irrespective of their religion Children, women, the elderly, militants, soldiers are all affected by war, albeit in different ways.Politicians of all ranks exploit such situations Unlike them, I do not have to blame ordinary Muslims for the situation of Kashmiri pandits, nor do I want to justify the militarization of Kashmir I do not want to take sides What I know is that ordinary people suffer and get killed, whereas those who can resolve the conflict make sure that the conflict continues The poor continue to bear the brunt of the conflict on their bodies


  5. says:

    and an an earlier time when the flowers were not stainedwith blood, the moon with blood clots To understand the author s viewpoint Please watch this interview of Rahul Pandita Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita is the truth of the life that Kashmiri Pandits have lived, their exile, their ancestral history, discrimination that has been part of their life, since the 14th century.Rahul Pandta has written an insightful, and easy to read history and an an earlier time when the flowers were not stainedwith blood, the moon with blood clots To understand the author s viewpoint Please watch this interview of Rahul Pandita Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita is the truth of the life that Kashmiri Pandits have lived, their exile, their ancestral history, discrimination that has been part of their life, since the 14th century.Rahul Pandta has written an insightful, and easy to read history of Kashmir Pandits, and how with many Muslim rulers since 14th century, many Pandits had to convert to Islam How since then, Kashmiri Pandits were ridiculed, humiliated and till date are subject to the same treatment in Kashmir Just before this book I read, Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer, and though that book has a different approach towards the story of Kashmir Both these books, talk about Kashmir on common grounds, and both these books, help one understand, how not only Kashmiri Pandits have had a tragic life, but the Kashmir that once was, no longer is The brotherhood, the culture that was, no longer is.I was born three years after my family migrated from their homeland, Sopore, Kashmir In a way, I had lost everything, much before I was born I had no cultural heritage, no ancestral history that I could be shown, no place or antiques of my family I always saw one photograph of our home in Sopore that was a three storey bungalow And then I saw another photograph of that same, grand home reduced to a single storey, burned down Then, as a child, I could not understand the graveness of the matter Though I had been told how we had been made to leave Kashmir by Muslims, but never the reasons, never the humiliation of it all The human tragedy was very less talked about Apparently we have moved on But, whenever Kashmir flashes in front of their eyes on tv, their eyes and heart are glued to it When they talk about that Kashmir, the pain that you hear in their voice, of having lost their homeland it will make you helpless, as helpless as they were then.I always asked my father one question, who was the one fighting for us I failed to understand, that in a country filled with freedom fighters, how come no one raised the issue of the oppression and discrimination Kashmiri Pandits had been subjected to Outside our community, was there anyone who raised their voice for us Nobody And there still is no one I love Rahul Pandita s bookso, not only for the first hand accounts and brilliant narration, but for the fact that he has mentioned this fact that nobody fought for us ever There are no grants for research on the Kashmir issue I agree with his point of comparing our sufferings with those of Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz camp, the campaign against us by Muslims in Kashmir and Pakistan was much like, Hitler s campaign in Germany, against Jews.But, we only lost our homeland, never our humanity And that is the sole reason of our existence We may still be a minority, but we continue to live a prosperous life because we did not treat anybody else the way we were treated We did not kill Muslims, the way they killed us Because in spite of everything, we remembered those Muslim friends who in spite of the insurgence wave, did not waver and supported us, maybe, discreetly, but did I was never told to stay away from Muslims, ever One of my first best friends was a Muslim Kashmiri girl, and my parents loved her as much as they would a Kashmiri Pandit.Brutal killings of Kashmiri Pandits, the struggle of setting up a home in a place much, much different in culture, language, temperature, and temperament of people, with nothing and as refugees, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits shifted to Jammu, living in one room Six people living in one room Thousands living in slums, who had nothing These stories, rather these realities have been told with as much pain as we had suffered them.The details of the raid by Kazakhs from Pakistan, in Kashmir, in 1947 has been told as a first hand account This raid was the reason why Kashmir joined hands with India and again, Rahul Pandita s expression and writing style will move you.Overall, this book will not only acquaint you with the Kashmiri Muslim, and Kashmiri Pandit brotherhood, but also the reasons of the struggle of the Pandits because of many other Kashmiri and Pakistani Muslims It will help you understand what happened in Kashmir and if you are a Kashmiri Pandit, it will help you understand your struggle and existence This is an excellent book about the Kashmir issue, a true book, written very well, with first hand account of the author himself it makes the book muchcredible and a very interesting read.For those who want to understand what happened to Kashmir, not just the Kashmiri Pandits, Curfewed Night will help you understand how even the Indian military created problems for Kashmiri Muslims, who were innocent But, Our Moon has Blood Clots will make you understand why Indian army had to stay in Kashmir.Curfewed Night, is a good basic book with first hand accounts of a Muslim Kashmiri, who faces a world, where because of the Kashmir situation he is tagged as a militant if he is a Muslim and who lives a threatened life in Kashmir because of both the militants and the Indian military.Kashmir has been an issue of debate since 1947 Our Moon Has Blood Clots best part is that it talks about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits not as a happening or a sad tale It talks about it as brutally as it was, as that life shattering experience that changed the entire life course of Kashmiri Pandits and as worse an experience as was of the Jews in Nazi Germany


  6. says:

    It was a venom spouting Twitter s Kashmiri Sunni community that first piqued my interest in this book I was curious who and what had evoked thier hatred and ire They were maligning Pandita and then a careful following of the conversation guided me to the book I found various Kashmiri underground sites reviewing the book to discredit it Like a true liberal majority , I felt Rahul Pandita may have written a provoking book.Another reason to read this book was when I read Basharat Peer s Curfew It was a venom spouting Twitter s Kashmiri Sunni community that first piqued my interest in this book I was curious who and what had evoked thier hatred and ire They were maligning Pandita and then a careful following of the conversation guided me to the book I found various Kashmiri underground sites reviewing the book to discredit it Like a true liberal majority , I felt Rahul Pandita may have written a provoking book.Another reason to read this book was when I read Basharat Peer s Curfewed Night, which I loved, he conveniently overlooked the exodus pain of Kashmiri Pandits The only sentence in the book he devoted to Pandits was something like, in my class, all pandit students started disappearing one by one Did they disappear on their own No mention.Rahul Pandita s book is a personal memoir, history of his family having to leave their homeland It covers both 1947 attacks of tribals Pathans on Kashmiri Pandits in Pak occupied Kashmir and 1989 90 attacks on Pandits, leading to mass exodus.Pandita mostly writes in factual manner, without any mud slinging THe pain of leaving home, losing a cousin who believed in his friends enough to stay in Kashmir, school friends who become militants and die young, seeing mother s mental trauma to be in exile couldn t have been easy This is one story but it happened to millions of Pandits Several of the accounts matched what I had heard from my other Kashmiri Pandit friends in Delhi.In fact, he recounts an incident where on TV he supports the human rights violation claims of Kashmiris against Army He says i may have lost my home, not my humanity.Pandita does mention few secular, brave muslims who tried to stop the carnage of 1989 90 and ended up having brutal deaths at the hands of fudamentalist forces who called them traiter.This book is not quite a history of exodus of a community, it isa personal story It explains the environment of fear and persecution very well So much that he equates it to Holocaust, referring to even Maus once Most objections to this book are that this may not happened, this is not true, this is like projecting one whole community in same light etc etc However, elsewhere, I saw a comment from Rahul Pandita, he said, we don t deny that Kunnan Phosphora did not happen, why do you deny forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits


  7. says:

    Rahul Pandita narrates a spellbinding tale of the exodus of Hindus from the Indian administered Kashmir Read the complete review here Rahul Pandita narrates a spellbinding tale of the exodus of Hindus from the Indian administered Kashmir Read the complete review here


  8. says:

    and an earlier time when the flowers were not stained with blood, the moon with blood clots Pablo Neruda, Oh, My Lost City The story of Kashmiri Pandits is a sordid chapter in the ongoing tragic epic of Kashmir Persecuted by Islamic fundamentalists, disowned by their own state, and largely ignored by the union government, they subsist on the fringes of India this, even after two of the most famous Prime Ministers of the country Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi being from their communi and an earlier time when the flowers were not stained with blood, the moon with blood clots Pablo Neruda, Oh, My Lost City The story of Kashmiri Pandits is a sordid chapter in the ongoing tragic epic of Kashmir Persecuted by Islamic fundamentalists, disowned by their own state, and largely ignored by the union government, they subsist on the fringes of India this, even after two of the most famous Prime Ministers of the country Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi being from their community.Muslim majority Kashmir had acceded to the Indian state after the partition only half heartedly many of the Muslim population wanted to go along with Pakistan, the Hindu king wanted to form and independent country, and ultimately the state got attached to India only because Pakistan attacked from one side Unlike other Indian states, Kashmir has never integrated with India A large number of the populace still consider India an illegal occupier, something which is exploited by Pakistan, and episodes of cross border terrorism are commonplace The iron rule of the armed forces of India in the valley also does not help in cooling passions.In this context, the Brahmin Pandits of Kashmir who consider themselves the original inhabitants of the state are seen mostly as the representatives of the hated Indian state by the separatists and in February 1986, the resentment started taking a violent turn In January 1990, it peaked, and Pandits were forced to emigrate en masse in fear of their lives They were settled in refugee camps in Jammu, to be largely forgotten by everyone unless they required to draw political mileage out of their plight.The journalist Rahul Pandita, just fourteen, was one of those forced to emigrate This memoir tells his story The politically correct narrative about the Pandit Exodus is that it was the Islamic terrorists who were responsible for the plight of the Pandits The ordinary Muslim on the street had nothing to do with it But Pandita takes this apart He shows us a Kashmir in which the Pandits were always the unwanted alien, rather like Jews in Nazi Germany Everyone the public, the state government, and the separatists were against them Reading this memoir, one gets the feeling that the bloodbath which started in 1990 had beginnings in 1947 itself.In Shahar though, by the age children learned the alphabet, they realized that there was an irreversible bitterness between Kashmir and India, and that the minority Pandits were often at the receiving end of the wrath this bitterness evoked We were the punching bags But we assimilated noiselessly, and whenever one of us became a victim of selective targetting, the rest of us would lie low, hoping for things to normalize Rahul says his family ignored all the signs of this growing resentment against India and decided to stick on in the valley, until the night of January 19, 1990, when slogans against the infidels began to ring out from all mosques at the same time, and attacks on Pandits increased in intensity and frequency.But the tipping point for Rahul s father came when they found four young men from the neighbourhood casually discussing the appropriation of the Pandit houses and their women This scene is so creepy, that it warrants quoting in detail.Suddenly, we hear laughter outside Then someone passes a remark and there is the sound of laughter again Father goes to the window and after taking a deep breath lifts the corner of the curtain to look outside I kneel on the ground near him and peep outside as well Near the main gate below, there is a gang of boys Some of them are smoking I know most of them They are boys from our neighbourhood near and far and I have played cricket with some of them Their ringleader is a boy who lives nearby He is even trained in rocket launchers, one of them says loudly, boasting about his cousin who is with a militant group now Let s distribute these houses, one of them shouts Akram, which one do you want he asks I would settle for this house any day, he points to a house Bastard, shoots back another, how you wish you could occupy this house with their daughter There is a peal of laughter They make obscene gestures with their fists and Akram pretends as if he is raping the girl and is now close to an orgasm Since I am kneeling next to Father, from the corner of my left eye, I can see that his legs have begun to shake.In the next few minutes, all of them have one house each In between they discuss other girls And then Akram asks the ringleader, Hey Khoja, you haven t specified your choice The ringleader is wearing a pheran and there is a cricket bat in his hands He is smoking He savours the question for a moment Everybody is looking at him now The ringleader then turns and now he is facing our gate He lifts his arm, and points his finger towards it He lets it stay afloat in the air for a moment and then he says it I will take this The corner of the curtain drops from Father s grip He crumbles to the floor right there He closes his eyes and is shaking I think I hear someone from the gang shouting Good choice, baaya, good choice Then it all blanks out I can hear nothingThere is a buzzing sound in my ear, as if my cochlea has burst One of them must have then picked up a stone and thrown it at Razdan s house The sound of glass breaking tears through the freezing air Pigeons take flight A pack of dogs begins to bark Haya kyoho goy, says one of them, you have incurred losses upon Akram Now he will have to replace this windowpane At least go inside and piss like a dog you need to mark your territory And then they leave Their voices grow distant till they completely fade away Silence prevails again except for the staccato barking of mongrels and the cooing of pigeons that are returning to the attic After a few days, Rahul and his family left for Jammu However, they were not welcomed with open arms by a city that didn t want them That was the beginning of the Pandita family s existence as shiftless refugees, moving from one filthy accommodation to another, bearing people s scorn and sympathy with silent fortitude until Rahul found a job in Delhi, purchased a flat, and shifted his family Meanwhile, atrocities against Pandits by the militants continued, with according to the author silent approval of the Muslim community.From March 1990 onwards, the killings of Pandits in the Valley increased manifold The news reports coming in from Kashmir were tragic In the name of Azadi, the Pandits were hounded on the streets and killed brutally Killings of the Hindu minority had turned into an orgy a kind of bloodlust By April, 1990, the mask was completely off It was not only the armed terrorist who took pride in such killings the common man on the streets participated in some of these heinous murders as well After he became a journalist, the author visited both Jammu and Kashmir many times There had been no improvement in the condition of the refugees all rehabilitation efforts had been torpedoed by an apathetic administration and endemic corruption And in the valley, things had gone from bad to worse with the total clampdown on civic freedoms and the shadow war between the security forces and the militants a war in which the sufferer was the common man.And so it continues in Kashmir today Rahul Pandita writes beautifully on a heart wrenching subject The writing literally flows one can t stop reading, even though the story is too disturbing at times The author does not believe in pulling punches, and he believes in calling what he considers a spade a spade In the process, he savagely takes apart the narrative of the Kashmiri Muslim being as much as victim as the Pandit.Over the years, the narrative of what led to the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley has been changed A series of untruths have been spoken so many times that they have almost become the truth One major untruth is that the Pandits were made to leave Kashmir under a government design to discredit the Kashmiri secessionist movement One of the scapegoats chosen for this untruth was the former governor of the state, Jagmohan The Pandits were encouraged by Jagmohan to leave so that he could deal with us firmly One kept hearing this Initially, I didn t care But now I seethe with anger whenever I come across this propaganda I have become determined to paraphrase Agha Shahid Ali that my memory must come in the way of this untrue history Another problem is the apathy of the media and a majority of India s intellectual class who refuse to even acknowledge the suffering of the Pandits No campaigns were ever run for us no fellowships or grants given for research on our exodus For the media, the Kashmir issue has remained largely black and white here are a people who were victims of brutalization at the hands of the Indian state But the media has failed to see, and has largely ignored the fact that the same people also victimized another people To justify his claim, Pandita shares the stories of the Pandits left in Kashmir, and those who returned believing the assurances of the union government The majority of them were harassed, and some were brutally murdered like the author s cousin Ravi, leaving his uncle, a victim of the partition riots, with an empty future ahead of him He disputes the reports of the mainstream media about the people of Kashmir mourning for the massacred Pandits Interviewing some of the victims first hand, he establishes it as media fabrication.This being a memoir, it cannot be but subjective especially on a harrowing topic like this But Rahul Pandita writes with a candour which speaks of honesty He may be biased, but he is honest with himself He fervently believes what he is writing about.It convinced me that healing the wound of Kashmir is not going to be easy if it ever heals, that is.PS Now I plan to read Basharat Peer s Curfewed Night to get the view from the other side


  9. says:

    This is one of those books which feels awkward to rate How do you rate a person s experience with tortures, murders and forced exile When I was little I would sometimes see my mother get this faraway look in her eyes as if she was in a trance I d tug on her arm and ask her what she was looking at, what was she thinking She d reluctantly shake her head and say, home, I was thinking of home No matter how I begged her to sayshe would insist it was best to forget the past She didn t ha This is one of those books which feels awkward to rate How do you rate a person s experience with tortures, murders and forced exile When I was little I would sometimes see my mother get this faraway look in her eyes as if she was in a trance I d tug on her arm and ask her what she was looking at, what was she thinking She d reluctantly shake her head and say, home, I was thinking of home No matter how I begged her to sayshe would insist it was best to forget the past She didn t have time to dwell on all that Rahul Pandita feels differently He brings us a story not only of his past but that of the Hindu minority s within Kashmir in 1990 He could not allow himself to forget His story begins with his carefree and happy memories of childhood This, in contrast to the terrifying and grim realization, when he turns 14, that the time had come for the family to flee to a great unknown, forever They flee to times of fear, confusion and endless anxiety You can almost hear their pounding hearts, as he bears witness, with his plaintive refrain of the loneliness of exile There was little hope in the new landscape just endless moves from place to place one worse than the next He watches his parents become ground down in their single mindedness of survival As they lose their health, hearts and spirits he holds tight to his humanity He asks the question we all do, why does this keep happening These words remind us that right now there are people fleeing for their lives He asks that we try to understand what it feels like to be bereft of simple hope He wrote this book, I think, to remind us of the dire consequences of ignorance, prejudice and injustice We need to be aware of those who strike out wildly in misdirected rage from fanatical beliefs Mr Pandita ends the book with his thoughts that he is waiting, waiting for his time to come again I hope his memories will bethan tattered remnants on the wind This is not a book one closes and forgets but one that encourages us to do our part forharmonious days and a brighter tomorrow


  10. says:

    When I opened the book, I already knew it would be a sad tale of atrocities A gut wrenching story of broken homesbroken dreamsbroken lives What I did not expect was the heart ache I felt deep insideas I became one with the families whose stories have been told Several times, I felt like calling my bhabhi, who s a Kashmiri Pandit herself but I stopped myself short I kept wondering if she too had lost a loved one If she too wanted to forget the exodus If she still felt homeless in o When I opened the book, I already knew it would be a sad tale of atrocities A gut wrenching story of broken homesbroken dreamsbroken lives What I did not expect was the heart ache I felt deep insideas I became one with the families whose stories have been told Several times, I felt like calling my bhabhi, who s a Kashmiri Pandit herself but I stopped myself short I kept wondering if she too had lost a loved one If she too wanted to forget the exodus If she still felt homeless in our home I don t know if she has the strength to answer these questions and I wonder if I have the courage to hear the answers.That s what the book does it makes you realize what the Pandits went through As you read through the story that has been told in simple language, you understand the agony and the ignominy of the Pandits, who have been forced to become refugees in their own country This is far too emotional a book that I may not write a technical reviewthough everyone should and must read this one.The only critical point is that the book does not follow a chronological style Which meant that I had to often flip through the pages to go back to ascertain the timeline in the story So, it was often difficult to determine the entire timeline leading to the exodus Advice to all readers Read this one It may make you a littlehuman Please Note I received this book free through the Goodreads First Reads Program


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