Kashmir Files, Godhra Files, Bengal Files… Why We Must Not Stop Telling The Stories

by Tushar Gupta - Mar 16, 2022 02:57 PM +05:30 IST
Kashmir Files, Godhra Files, Bengal Files… Why We Must Not Stop Telling The StoriesThe Kashmir Files.
  • The pursuit of storytelling, without filters and sugarcoating, must not stop.

Kashmir Files, Gujarat Files, Bengal Files, Muzaffarnagar Files, Delhi Files, Kerala Files, Assam Files, and the list goes on and on and on. For decades, a lot many stories of suffering and pain have been either dismissed, denied, or downplayed by the governing regimes for reasons that can be attributed to the umbrella of political appeasement.

Turns out, to speak the truth is to threaten the secular fabric of this great country. To pinpoint the savagery of a few, within the political establishment, is to threaten the status quo that keeps the system going.

That is how one had the likes of Yasin Malik meeting the prime minister of India. That is how the Abdullahs, for long, held the state to ransom before the Centre when it came to Article 370. That is how, today, West Bengal’s Chief Minister dictates a stunned silence in the media fraternity when it comes to the post-poll violence in the state merely a few months ago. That is how, for the greater part of the election, the Samajwadi Party could deny the impact of the riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, because it aided their political narrative.

Again, that is how we remember the Gujarat riots, in popular literature, for everything else, but not the scores of people that were burned alive in that train in Godhra. That is how, for every Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker that is butchered in the states of Kerala and Assam, there is a brigade of journalists, eager to colour such murders as a consequence of the fascism practised by the RSS. That is how a journalist, who defended, rather cheekily, the genocide in Kashmir, in her early days of journalism, had a free pass to venture across the entire system until the political demise of United Progressive Alliance-2 (UPA-2).

Simply put, the majority of people in India have been cheated of truth as it is, and their pain has been discarded to worship the idea of political appeasement across states. The pursuit of vote banks has superseded the pursuit of truth, acceptance, justice, and a much-needed closure.

For many, the success of the recently released The Kashmir Files is the numbers it has been registering on the box office. The box office success stories are not without their merit, for the number of screens the movie had on its opening two days was nothing compared to what the likes of Dharma or Yash Raj or Excel productions enjoy. For the space, it was awarded in the multiplexes, the numbers are phenomenal and some are expecting it to breach the Rs 200 crore threshold. Just another testament to the hunger for truth amongst the masses, really.

The biggest success of the movie, however, is on social media, where raw emotions, unfiltered, have surfaced. These are people who suffered and were in silence. These are people who heard stories of pain and agony but were asked to remain silent. These are people who were an audience to all the rapes, murders, and butchering back in the day, and were conveniently forgotten by the future political establishments.

These surfacing of emotions, through tears, through personal testimonies, through social media posts is necessary, for they enable an honest conversation around the events of the genocide, as it is happening today on many news and digital channels.

The current generation, who by no fault of their own, have been fed a steady diet of sugarcoated social sciences, with diluted truth and concentrated secularism, must be made to realise the magnitude of the pain many of our ancestors suffered through in different parts of the country. The shock and awe, even denial, will be common, but the truth accompanying must be stressed, for them to unlearn and learn.

The movie is far from being a closure for any Kashmiri Pandit, but for them to be able to vent their pain, anger, frustration and despair, to be able to tell the masses, using the movie as a medium, what the community went through in the late 1980s before it culminated into a genocide, is what we should thank the producers and the team of The Kashmir Files for. Very rarely does a movie become a voice for the voiceless and a voice of the voiceless.

For what The Kashmir Files stands for, it is safe to assume that under any regime but this, even a coalition for that matter, the movie would not have seen the light of the day. It would have been banned for the same reasons that allowed for political appeasement over justice and closure. The banned books and movies under the Congress regime in the past are a testament to this assumption. The political establishment of the day enables an atmosphere that allows for such stories to be told, and for that reason alone, we must not stop at The Kashmir Files, for a lot of stories, scattered in the hidden pages of a corrupted history, remain to be told.

The commercial success of The Kashmir Files will get more financiers, producers, and other skilled technicians for future projects, and as was the case with Vikram Sampath and Sanjeev Sanyal, there would be people looking to respond for the truth will rattle their status quo, but the pursuit of storytelling, without filters and sugarcoating, must not stop.

Kashmir Files, Godhra Files, Bengal Files… we must not stop telling the stories.

Tushar is a senior-sub-editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @Tushar15_
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