Two prominent filmmakers who trace their roots to Kashmir have warned about the growing alienation of people in this area due to recent developments.
Danish Renzu and Sanjay Kak were in Metro Vancouver over the past few days to attend separate events.
Renzu was born in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar and is an alumnus of UCLA; Kak is based in New Delhi.
Both condemned the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government for abrogating the special status given to Kashmir without any consultation with local leaders.
Speaking with Straight, they cautioned that this arbitrary action on August 5 will further alienate the people of Kashmir and fuel more resistance in the coming years.
The disputed region of Kashmir has been under lockdown since August 5, when the BJP government revoked special status given to the state and decided to divide it without any debate in the Indian parliament.
Not only have thousands of troops been deployed in the name of security, but many Kashmiri leaders have also been detained indefinitely. Internet services have been heavily disrupted and there is a complete blockade on press freedom.
Kashmiri insurgents have fought for the right to self-determination in the state for years. To suppress their movement, the Indian government led by Narendra Modi has even placed the pro-India moderate leadership under arrest and turned the entire region of Kashmir into an open-air jail.
Since it is the only Muslim-majority state in India, it is believed that Modi’s BJP government is trying to polarize the Hindu majority as part of its long-term political survival plan by scapegoating Muslims under the pretext of national unity.
Those opposing the move are frequently labeled as “anti-nationals” by supporters of the BJP.
Renzu made Half Widow, a 2017 feature film based on the stories of Kashmiri women whose husbands were abducted by Indian troops and were never returned to their families.
He warned that the government’s action is not going to help. In fact, Renzu predicted that Kashmir will be turned into another war zone, like Gaza and Syria.
Ironically, Renzu’s film gives hope for peace and normalcy, but since August 5, he has lost that hope.
Kak, who made Jashan-e-Azadi, a 2007 documentary on the conflict in Kashmir, feels the same way. He categorically stated that the resistance is going to grow in Kashmir in the next 20 years.
Incidentally, they were both in Kashmir on August 4 and sensed something big was going to happen. That’s because they saw massive deployment of troops and noticed government orders asking all tourists to leave.
They both separately told Straight that while the Indian state has always acted aggressively against people of Kashmir, the latest action has gone further by isolating moderate and pro-India voices in the state.
They believe that the world needs to step in and take notice of what’s going on in the world’s so-called largest democracy.
Renzu was in Surrey in connection with the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival opening gala on Thursday (November 14) evening. His latest movie, The Illegal, was screened there.
Kak was in Vancouver for the screening of Jashn-e-Azadi at the University of British Columbia on Friday (November 15).
On Saturday (November 16) he was at SFU Harbour Centre to discuss his latest book, Witness Kashmir 1986–2016/Nine Photographers. That presentation was moderated by Samir Gandesha, director of SFU’s Institute for the Humanities.
Originally published on www.straight.com