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04 November 2015

Book Review: OUR MOON HAS BLOOD CLOTS, The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits, by Rahul Pandita

"Humein Kya Chahiye???AZADI"

Background:

I read this book a while ago, soon after the Kashmir vacation. During the time I was there, I used to go for morning walks along the Jhelum, where I once happened to meet a gentleman. He introduced himself as AK Pandita, and said he worked in the state government (durbar). We got talking and he said he was a Kashmiri Pandit, he spoke about the hardships the entire community had faced, the prejudices they still face, etc. He went on to add, the beautiful Rajbag area where we were staying, had once been the very place where they had lived.

I had been meaning to read this book since long, but it was always out of stock. I finally managed to get a copy on my return, and finished reading it in a day. It was that gripping.

About the book:

It initially begins with the author's childhood, where he speaks of their house, his apple tree, how Shivratri would be celebrated, his school days, etc. He speaks of how as kids they were made fun of for singing the National Anthem. The way various experiences and situations are described, is a mix of being highly tragic to sometimes even comical. Some parts are so moving, you wouldn't realise when a tear has slowly been inching down from the corner of your eye. There are so many incidents, some of them very gory, described in such a way, you can almost see them happening in your mind's eye. Take for example the one where a guy had witnessed his entire family being shot and murdered in front him.

The setting moves from Srinagar to Delhi and back to Srinagar where the author now travels as a journalist, or rather as a tourist in his own homeland. He speaks of how they were forced to sell their land for peanuts, to make ends meet after their displacement. He describes the almost inhuman conditions under which people in the refugee camps lived and continue to, even today. There is no melodrama, no glorification, but just a first-hand account, with the facts narrated in an almost brutal manner.

My thoughts:

It's a worthy read for those interested in modern history. Also, for those fed up with the secular mainstream media, which somehow seems to feed us only highly intolerant news these days. 

It's been more than 25 years now, since the horrific ethnic cleansing started. To date there has been no concrete solution. And the sad part is now it's just a political agenda, something that can be used (and abused), something that can be raised as per convenience, as and when the situation demands, and then very conveniently pushed aside. It's been quoted ever so often that the whole issue has been trivialised.

All in all, I'd recommend reading this book, to get an idea of the crisis from KP's point of view, and not from the separatists'.


Rating: 9/10

(Random House India, non-fiction)

Excerpt:

They found the old man dead in his torn tent with a pack of chilled milk pressed against his right cheek. It was our first June in exile, and the heat felt like a blow in the back of the head. His neighbour, who discovered his lifeless body in the refugee camp, recalled later that he had found his Stewart Warner radio on, playing an old Hindi film song:
Aadmi musafir hai
Aata hai, jaata hai

(Man is a traveller
He comes, he goes)


(Photograph and excerpt sourced from here)

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