Mr. Magazine was not in Kashmir in January 1990. If he had been present, he would have been awake on the night of January 19, holding a knife in his hands, to protect his family. He does not know the pain of watching his house being burnt down — which his brother went through in Srinagar’s Karan Nagar.
Had he experienced any of this first hand, he would not have left my book launch in a petulant huff; he would have cried there, like his nephew did. He would have also known then that the Gaw Kadal massacre happened on January 21, not January 19 and that 51 and not 41 people lost their lives.
Nowhere in my memoir have I suggested that only Brahmins have the right to exist in Kashmir.
My stand on Kashmir is unwavering. I believe both Muslims and Pandits have suffered and these pains can coexist. What is dangerous is Mr. Magazine’s tendency to act as if by acknowledging the pain of the Pandits, you are undermining the pain of Muslims.
We all need to move on. But I am not willing to compromise on my truth that many in the Valley find inconvenient.
Mr. Magazine may want to retain his rosy image of the Kashmir of the 1960s, but the Pandits faced brutality in 1990, in which a very large number of Muslims took active part.
Denying this reality that many of us faced will not help anyone move on.
Please do not insult our memory. Please do not lie by writing not a single Pandit house was attacked.
If you want to know the story of those 1,446 Pandits who returned recently, step out of those cosy bukhari-heated drawing rooms of separatist leaders the next time you visit the Valley. Go to Vessu. It’s in south Kashmir. May be then you’ll also realise that you are a Kashmiri Pandit, not ‘Pundit’.