What happened to those who didn’t leave Kashmir in January 1990?

Sarvanand Kaul Prem

During the recent wave of Kashmir Files, it came to my notice that there are some portals which are running a story on a certain Sarvanand Kaul Premi, one of the Hindus who died during the 90’s genocide. His story is being run as one of secularism gone wrong. While there are many such stories which can be shared to tell people how their idea of secularism won’t save them when Islamists come for the kill, this particular example isn’t the correct one to do it.

I had always heard from one of my Kashmiri friends, a story of her mother’s Uncle. An incident that left Aunty traumatized which makes her go into panic attacks to this day, because of witnessing what happened with him. My friend told me that this is the reason Aunty won’t be able to watch the film.

Who Was Sarvanand Kaul Premi?

He was a simple man with a large family, a zamindar who had lands and orchards and used to earn from them. When his fellow Kashmiris started going away to Jammu camps in January 1990, and he heard stories of how many were also dying there from heat and snakebites, he decided to take the risk and stay back. Some others followed him since he was a community leader. Every Muslim in his village was also indebted to him. He was also a scholar par excellence and a living encyclopaedia. The only translation of Ramayan and Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta in Kashmiri is his single handed contribution to Kashmiri literature. This is also part of the reason the terrorists targeted him, for he represented Bharatiya culture and tradition.

What Treatment Did Jihadis Mete Out To Him?

So they decided to make an example out of him and also instill fear in everyone who had decided to stay back at home, instead of leaving for refugee camps. They killed his son before him, gouged out his eyes and hammered a nail on the forehead where he applied a teeka. After that they killed Dr. Premi, and then they hung both from a tree after having broken their bones and torturing them with cigarette burns.

There are enough and more stories on secularism gone wrong, and we don’t need to use wrong examples to make that point. Also, when it comes to talking about the Kashmiris who didn’t leave their homes instantly to save their lives, it’s important to think why. No one wants to get tortured to death. But some do struggle with the final decision of leaving, especially when one knows that there’s death on the other side too, albeit a little late. If someone came to your home today and asked you to abandon your home or get killed, can you guarantee that no one would play around with the idea of taking a risk? Would you hail that in future as a story of secularism gone wrong?

Gore Content Of The Film

In my opinion, the film needed to be more gory. It needed to carry these stories too, and I say that with no sense of thanklessness to the maker, but the sheer sense of tragedy of the vast number of people who took a variety of decisions and they all went wrong. Ralive, Ghalive, Chaliv! Convert, Leave Or Die! We’re grateful to the Kashmiris for not having converted, for having faced such brutalities, and in spite of that, for not having turned into terrorists. We’re remorseful for the Kashmiris who left, with their women, instead of how the terrorists wanted the women to be left behind. We’re remorseful not because they left, but because in spite of leaving, many of them died on the way or in refugee camps. We’re regretful for the Kashmiris who died because they took a delayed decision to leave, or because they made some plan to save themselves but that went wrong. Appreciation regardless for Vivek Agnihotri and the entire team, for not having minced words to suit the gentle hearts of secular Indians.

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