Top critical review
An important but incomplete narration of the Kasmir exodus
30 August 2019
This book, along with Basharat Peer's Curfewed Night, should be read together to understand the tragedy of Kashmir. Prior to this, I had been reading Abandoned and Forgotten, about German civilians in East Prussia who lost their homes and faced brutality at the hands of the approaching Russians. This book is a similar narrative of the pain of losing ones home. There were many things about the Kashmiri Pandits that I did not know- they come across as a very scholarly people. It is very disappointing to hear that after 2 decades the pandits still could not go back to their homes.
Like Evelynn Tannehil in Abandoned and Forgotten, Pandita too seeks a sense of closure by revisiting his old home with their new occupants . However, unlike her, he is not able to detach himself from the past, he cannot forgive ( though Tannehil's suffering was much higher)
Both this book and Curfewed Night are obviously true personal accountsm ,moments in the state's history that did happen. What we need to be careful about is how we draw a broader interpretation of these events . Should we conclude for example, that most of Kashmir hates the Pandits, and wants them out ? I really wanted to understand why the valley hates the Pandits so much, but the narrative does not include any voices from the Muslims in Srinagar, nor does it try to explore that cause.
The 14 year old boy who loses all his family in 1998 in the book blames the whole village to be co-conspirators in their murder. But we need more evidence to hold that broader conclusion. Both these books would have been better if the alternate point of view was explored a bit to allow a more balanced conclusion.
I also do not understand the purpose of include the 1948 invasion by the Tribesmen. Is the author trying to suggest that there is a theme connecting the events of 1948 and 1990 ? There is no mention of the massacre of muslims that occured in Jammu prior to the invasion of tribesmen. These omissions make thisbook somewhat average