‘Journalist’ Barkha Dutt has been the subject of social media backlash yet again after a 2004 video, wherein she tried to contextualise the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits, surfaced online. In the video, Barkha Dutt can be seen talking about how the Kashmiri Pandits were ‘wealthy’ in the valley, with good jobs, and stating that it created a rift and resentment among the Muslims who she insinuated were ‘deprived’.
“Today hapless victims, they were once privileged elites of the valley. They may have been a minority but at that time, they had monopolised government jobs, plum postings, and other such social benefits…In fact, the sharp economic disparity between the Pandits and the poor Muslim majority was one of the earliest reasons for popular discontent in the state,” Barkha was heard as saying.
A Kashmiri Hindu woman, who had witnessed the ethnic cleansing of pandits from close quarters, recounts the harrowing tale of genocide after her grandson showed her the snippet of the journalist’s video. Reacting strongly to Barkha’s insidious comments, the Hindu woman said, “If we had the monopoly, then why did we leave our homes? If Barkha had faced what we went through, then, she would have fled too (in order to save her life)… They (radical Islamists) would say that they wanted to create a Pakistan in Kashmir. They wanted to capture our women.”
Kashmiri Pandit woman recounts her plight
“We have gone through all this… We earned everything that we had through hard work and perseverance… Only we know the circumstances that forced us to flee our homes. When we reached Jammu, we took shelter in a nearby temple. We did not have anything to eat or drink. My relatives also faced a similar ordeal. Many of them were bitten by snakes and scorpions,” the elderly woman reminiscened.
She then recounted a spine-chilling story about the ethnic cleansing, perpetrated by radical Islamists. The woman continued, “I have two sons. At that time, one studied in 12th std while the other studied in 8th std. Their names were written on a local Masjids, as the ones who had to be killed.”
Demands apology from Barkha Dutt
When a relative told us about it, I and my husband remained anxious about our children’s safety all night. We took a bus, the next morning, and fled our home to Jammu. What is Barkha talking about? She writes fake news and she gets paid for it. I am angry at her comments. She should think before speaking her mind. Barkha should apologise to all of us”, the woman concluded.
Following the Instagram video, Kashmiri Pandits and many of their supporters have started a social media campaign, demanding an apology from Barkha Dutt for trying to ‘justify’ their genocide. Many Twitter users also shared the hashtag #ApologiseBarkha and demanded an apology from the veteran journalist.