Tag Archives: Rahul Pandita

Our memories come in the way of our histories: Gowhar Fazili

Guest post by GOWHAR FAZILI

Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita; Pages: 258; Vintage Books, Random House, India; Price: Rs 499

Rahul Pandita’s book Our Moon Has Blood Clots must be looked at both as a personal account of suffering as well as a political project that implicitly and explicitly makes use of that suffering towards a particular end. The undertaking is a legitimate one on both counts.  What the book manages to achieve on each, warrants a fair and dispassionate assessment.

His narration of events experienced by the Pandits is a welcome exposition of subjectivity around a range of traumatic events, humiliations, killings and betrayals undergone prior to and after the outbreak of mass political rebellion in Kashmir in 1989. The events thus narrated, especially the account of the personal experiences of trauma do make one strongly identify with the suffering of the families involved and agree with the wide swathes of subjective anger and hurt shared by the community.  The chilling accounts of individual and mass killings and the circumstances that made them possible, call for collective self-reflection, remorse and atonement. This account also calls for serious reflection on the fragility of human associations and trust in exceptional circumstances that we normally take for granted.

The book as well as the promotional interviews around the book push the claim that not only certain militants but also many ordinary people, including those personally known to the victims, were responsible for the exodus through their acts of omission and commission.  This claim is substantiated through a range of indictments based on personal encounters with individuals, shared nuggets of information, as well as the interpretation of the larger political symbolism and slogans which were seen as a deliberate attempt to intimidate Pandits, and Pandits alone.  While it is difficult to deny that a number of individuals took advantage of those anarchic times to gratify personal hate and lust for loot, it makes for an overstatement to underplay the equally frequent narrative of mutual support between individuals that one gets to hear during conversations between the members of the two communities privately. Such underplay does violence to those aspects of shared memory.  Continue reading Our memories come in the way of our histories: Gowhar Fazili

The Present of the Absent State

[An edited version of this review has appeared in Biblio.]

The Absent State: Insurgency as an Excuse for Misgovernance
by Neelesh Misra and Rahul Pandita
Hachette India, 2010
272 pages, 495 Rs

Indian journalists have written books on conflict as diaries of their years of reportage, putting together their stories and experiences. The task of looking at conflicts with a broader perspective has been left to the security experts who mostly write from, well, a security ‘angle’. It is great, then, to see a book by two journalists, on the conflicts in Kashmir, the north-east and the Maoist belt. Journalists won’t give you footnotes but at least they can write lucid prose. Continue reading The Present of the Absent State