Banned in India by the ever faithful Big Brother of a censor board, the director took the unprecedented step of releasing this online (apparently there is no law against releasing something online…yet).
Ashvin actually opened it up for download for one day – on 26th January, the Republic Day. That’s quite a symbolic gesture!!
And once you see this you know why…
Which is why you need to see it
It has been the practice of all governments to try and dictate what we must see and hear and there us always an effort by all governments to make the public buy into their version of current and historical events.
And there has been an increasing virulence of intolerance by self-appointed patriots whose sense of injustice bleed too easily. Look at what happened to Symbiosis university’s Kashmir seminar “Voices of Kashmir”, which was cancelled due to the ‘fatwa’ by the right wing fringe.
And Kashmir is one topic which will always invoke strong reactions. And this is one topic which will always see an effort to give the ‘official’ version of the story
In Kashmir, Ashvin Kumar has taken different interviews from a wide variety of people to give a very different perspective of Kashmir, different from what the self-censored mainstream media would not give.
Through the interview, Ashvin talks gives a feel of the history of Kashmir and why so many things that we see today has roots in events that happened long time ago, even as long ago as Akbar. But more recently due to the allegedly rigged elections in 1990. During the whole length, all the topics, deemed too controversial for our sensitive ears are brought into the open – rigged elections, army and police brutality, excesses on civilians, mainstream indifference, the Kashmiri Pandit exodus
The people interviewed include ex-militants, current militants, former Kashmir administrator Wajahat Habibullah, Nobel nominated activist Parveena Ahangar (who has struggled for two decades to raise attention to thousands of missing people, or as she calls it ‘enforced disappearances’), Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, a Hindu Pandit couple who were kidnapped by militants
Perhaps the most controversial interview was that of women of village of Kunan Poshpura, who were raped by the Indian army personnel on 23rd February 1991.
It is almost taboo in India to talk about excesses by the Indian Security forces, as if they are somehow fundamentally different from armies in rest of the world. In a situation of warfare where you have absolute control over life and death decisions, its a power that corrupts easily. So to expect the Indian army to somehow be made of supermen of morals is to believe a whole hypocrisy.
There were no holy cows who were spared. Its not only the army and the Indian government who are brought to the dissecting tables, the people on the other side – the militants are brought here too.
Ashvin tries to show that there are no good guys or bad guys. There are only situations and there is only human nature. People, be they the idealistic youth who took to militancy or the common soldier, act according to the prism they are shown. The militants see the Indians as invaders who use guns to silence Kashmir. The soldiers see the militants as an extension of Pakistan, the enemy who is an enemy because they always have been.
Importantly, what ‘Inshallah Kashmir’ catches brilliantly are the ordinary people who are caught in the middle. The women searching for 20 years for their missing children, husbands and brothers, who are all most certainly dead. The women who were raped just because they were vulnerable enough. The aspiring young cartoonist who was made to feel a terrorist in his country’s capital just because he was Kashmiri, the budding cricketer who lost a leg just because he was caught in a demonstration, the militant who was disillusioned with both sides of the conflict, the kidnapped couple who helped their captors escape because they understood that the army could not…
Inshallah Kashmir shows that that we are far from making any solutions in Kashmir. Instead of winning over people, we are subjecting a new generation of Kashmiris to only one image of India – that of a rifle and Army boots. How can we make it better from that?
The documentary has a very raw feel to it – almost as if the director wanted to maintain the immediacy of the videos taken. It is almost as if its something that you could have taken. Its one the main reasons you get drawn to ‘Inshallah Kashmir’. It puts you behind the camera and brings you into the lives of the people that the censor board didn't want you to see…
It is important that you see this. Its good to have your beliefs challenged.
Catch the whole documentary here…