Only one who has undergone pain and witnessed it first hand could
have written this moving account of how the Kashmir Valley forced
the Pandits to flee -- and then sowed the seeds of fiction that
Governor Jagmohan authored the exodus so that he could 'take care'
of the Muslims.
And since in secular India it is a political sin to say anything
negative about Muslims and Islam, the fiction gained currency.
Even the Indian media was largely apathetic to the suffering of
the Pandits. The Indian state would be accused of brutalising the
Valley's Muslim people but what was ignored was "that the same
people also victimised another people".
This is the story that Rahul Pandita, born in Kashmir Valley and
forced to quit Srinagar during the troubled 1990s, exposes with an
evident sincerity, with a tortured heart but one which hasn't bid
goodbye to human values. Unlike many from his community, he has no
hatred for Kashmiri Muslims, not even to those who grabbed his
ancestral house (after it had been ravaged by Islamists) and
quietly made it their own.
This is a powerful story, one that can't be ignored even as the
Pakistan-backed separatist movement rages on, turning large parts
of what was once a Sufi land into an Islamist hub. This is as much
a personal account as it is a surgery of the politics of hatred
whose face is the drive for the so-called 'azadi'.
Unlike those who would want to sweep the ugly truth under a
(Kashmiri) carpet, Rahul is not shy; he tells you how ordinary
Kashmir Muslims too, at times, assisted thugs mouthing 'azadi'
slogans to kill fellow Kashmiris in cold blood, only because they
belonged to another religion.
The author and his family, like innumerable Pandits, were forced
to live as refugees in Jammu before finally settling down in
Delhi, changing houses as many as 22 times. "I have reduced my
life to names and numbers, I have memorised the names of every
Pandit killed during those dark days, and the circumstances in
which he or she was killed. I have memorised the number of people
killed in each district."
If you need to understand the Kashmir story, this book cannot be
ignored. It is powerful, painful -- and revealing.
Title: Our Moon
has Blood Clots
Author: Rahul Pandita
Random House India
(M.R. Narayan Swamy can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org)