Letters from Readers
Editorial on The Kashmir Files was wrong and misguided
The editorial in Khabar’s May issue (“It’s not just that The Kashmir Files is propaganda, but that it’s dangerous”) is factually incorrect and intellectually dishonest. Your main criticism of the movie is that it paints a false and biased picture of the violence that has taken place in Kashmir over the last more than 30 years. Here’re the facts:
1. Every single incident shown in the movie is thoroughly documented and verified. They’ve just been woven into a story to make it easier for the audience to follow. If you can identify a single incident that is fictitious, please let us know. If not, please issue a correction or retraction.
2. The focus of the movie is on the ethnic cleansing that took place in Kashmir in the winter of 1989. Your criticism that it doesn’t provide a comprehensive overview of all the violence that has taken place in Kashmir over the last 30 years is as valid as criticizing Schindler’s List for not talking about all the Russians who died in WWII.
3. Showing that the perpetrators of this ethnic cleansing were motivated by religious hatred is not being done for political purposes. It is the truth that has been deliberately hidden and obscured by a certain political class of India. It is an undisputed fact that Hindus were targeted because of their religion. The perpetrators clearly, loudly, and repeatedly explained why they wanted to do it—to cleanse Kashmir of all non-Muslims. If you are uncomfortable with that fact, that’s your problem. You cannot ask people to change facts because you are uncomfortable with them. This is not some long-forgotten history.
In recent months, Hindus continue to be systematically killed in the valley. The reasons are still the same. They believe that they were largely successful in cleansing out non-Muslims from the valley and are unhappy about the meager rehabilitation efforts. They want to nip it in the bud.
Finally, there have been more than seven movies about Kashmir since 1990 including Mission Kashmir and Maachis which glorified terrorists. You did not have an opinion on those movies. So, why such a strong reaction to the only movie to date which has even dared to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing in the valley?
These religious zealots have killed thousands of Kashmiri Hindus and many more died indirectly in Jammu camps. Did you ever hear that any Kashmiri Hindu killed any Muslim or even retaliated with violence against the community? Instead of holding up the Hindus as role models of peace, you contort history to justify and wash away the violence that was committed and continues to be committed by these Islamists.
Recognizing and being aware of what happened is the first step towards addressing the problem of Kashmir. The movie covered only some aspects of the genocide committed in Kashmir. It did not show the destruction of our temples—more than 600 of our temples have been destroyed and idols desecrated. It did not show how Article 370 created conditions for this genocide, though it showed the looting, the burning, and the forcible occupation of our homes and many more horrific details of this genocide.
All the Kashmiri Hindus here in Atlanta have horrific personal experiences of this persecution. If our families had not left the valley, we would not have been alive today. We hope that in future you will present your readers with a fact-based point of view instead of an ideological one.
Kashmiri Hindus of Georgia
Heartwarming article on an important issue
I read the heartwarming cover story in the June issue of Khabar on Archith Seshadri (“Tamil. Brahmin. Iyer. And Gay.”) It was written in an extremely balanced, fair, and hopeful manner. I have known Archith for close to 10 years now, ever since he started as a rookie reporter in Augusta, GA. From the first time he walked into our small cafe, we were impressed by his dedication and friendly, humanistic approach to situations. I have to confess that I am also one of the aunties who tried to set him up with eligible girls! But he came out to us in a very open and honest way, and it has only increased our admiration and affection for him. We wish him the very best wherever life takes him. It was this trailblazing quality that earned him a chapter in my memoir/cookbook, Organic Tales From Indian Kitchens.
Priya Mary Sebastian
India has welcomed people of different faiths
The article in the July issue of Khabar (Desi World: “Religious Unfreedom in India”) is not only false, but also an insult to a country that has welcomed people of different faiths fleeing religious persecution. When Jews and Zoroastrians (Parsis) took refuge in India, Hindus provided them complete freedom to practice their faith and traditions. The refugees also did not try to convert Hindus to their faith. Due to mutual respect for each other, all of them lived in peace and harmony. On the other hand, Muslims and Christians made a concerted effort to convert Hindus to their faith by using force, coercion, and inducement.
Political parties have been exploiting the religious differences to their advantage—known as vote bank politics. The Congress party systematically controlled Hindus while giving preferential treatment to Muslims. Finally, after years of mistreatment, Hindus’ loyalty to the party of Mahatma Gandhi started waning, and they elected BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi, whose motto (“Sabke Saath, Sabka Vikas”) means working together for the progress of all. But in order to garner support against BJP, once again the political leaders started exploiting religion.
Should the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) look in their own backyard, they would find many incidents of attacks on minorities within the United States. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has frequently made antisemitic statements but her party did not condemn her. Following her visit to Pakistan, she has started her attack on Hindus and India. She has even proposed a resolution in Congress to that effect. So many Sikhs have been shot and killed during the last couple of decades. USCIRF doesn’t want us to remember the 2012 shooting at Wisconsin Gurudwara that killed and injured several Sikh devotees.
Hindus have been targeted frequently. In September 2021, several universities organized a webinar, “Dismantling Global Hindutva.” Leaders of Hindu organizations objecting to such an open attack on Hinduism were told it was protected under Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom. Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani said, “This conference represents a disgusting attack on Hindus across the United States, and we must all condemn this as nothing more than racism and bigotry against Hindus. I will always stand strong against Hinduphobia.” The webinar was held to spread hatemongering against the Hindu way of life.
Surendra N. Pandey
Philanthropy can take many forms
Thank you for highlighting the Indian-American philanthropists in Khabar’s July issue (Cover Story: “Daan-Dharma”). Generally, the subject of philanthropic efforts is the wealthy class that has the means and resources to support its chosen passions. Most of these efforts are related to education such as setting up endowments at various universities—most often where the donors have connections through their own educational background or in areas where they have business or personal interest. Of course, these efforts are laudable.
However, philanthropy is not limited to financial support. There are those who contribute to the welfare of society in other areas such as poverty, disability, hunger, justice, and social equity by sharing their time, knowledge, and energy. Such unsung heroes often remain invisible. These are the karma yogis who can inspire others to do their share. The media can make a difference.
Founder/Executive Director Indian American Education Foundation (www.iaef.org)
Kudos for taking on challenging topics
As a regular Khabar reader, I am delighted to see the topics covered in the magazine! The choice of articles is amazing and excellent! I am very appreciative of Pooja Garg who is taking on very challenging topics (“When Home Is Not a Safe Haven,” “Tamil. Brahmin. Iyer. And Gay.”). My kudos to her!
Varada Divgi, M.D.
Appreciate Didi’s words of wisdom
Thanks for publishing the article (“Words of Wisdom”) written by our Didi, Siddheshwari Devi, in the July issue of Khabar. This is an excellent writeup for us to learn many things about our life in this world. The topic “Get a coach” is very relevant and underscores the importance of a coach—whether a life coach or a sports coach. Whatever our profession, a coach can inspire and guide us to be the best that we can be and be victorious in whatever we undertake. We may be experts in an area, but there may be so many other areas where we may need to grow and improve ourselves. As a management consultant, I agree that a coach is a much-needed critic who helps us transform our weaknesses to strengths. Even successful people have had coaches to assist them. Thanks to Didi for reminding us of an aspect of life that’s ignored by so many.
Correction: In the July issue (Books: “Searchers, Wanderers, and Strivers”), the reviewer mistakenly wrote that, between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries, “over 55 million Europeans made the trip across the Pacific Ocean to the United States.” They actually crossed the Atlantic Ocean.
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Note: Views expressed in the Letters section do not necessarily represent those of the publication.
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