Sunday, 15 September 2019

BOOK LAUNCH: "Resilience" first person accounts of exodus launched by KPs in London

It's been a long and difficult journey- these past 30 years in exile.

But we lived it with dignity and we showed Resilience in face of adversity.
Resilience:30 years in Exile is the anthology of real accounts of people who lived and suffered during the Kashmiri Hindu exodus in 1990s. Heart breaking stories of grit, determination and faith. Of striving for excellence, prosperity and nation building- not revenge.

For queries regarding the publication, please email:

We Remember: The Journey of Kashmiri Pandits, a play by volunteers of KPCS

This year in 2019, the Kashmiri Pandits are in 30th Year of exile, with justice far from being delivered. An entire generation has lived far away from where ‘Home’ could be and disconnected from their roots. The agony of their parents remains aloof as such a painful episode has been chosen by families to be best forgotten. Nobody talks about it! The world as it is has forgotten the pain, the trauma, the suffering that the Kashmiri Pandits have undergone. The episode of 1990 is still fresh in the memory of every single person who lived the horrors as a child, as a teenager or as an adult.

The programme We Remember is essentially a journey, a project that KPCS has undertaken to connect children and young people to their roots. In doing so, document the stories of each family whether by first person accounts or by visual documentation of timeline of ad-dresses lived at by children for their families.

The team of volunteers who performed in the play, We Remember: The Journey of Kashmiri Pandits in London
In India a landmark announcement of Article 370 abrogation and bi-furcation of J&K state into two Union Territories, namely, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has resulted in much debate and discussion. Welcomed wholeheartedly by majority, especially Kashmiri Pandits, the actual justice delivery and the dream of a safe return & rehabilita-tion of Kashmiri Pandits remains a distant reality.
Princess Kota at Sharadapeeth
at her graduation exam
in 14th Century, Kashmir

We therefore, Remember, never to forget. We Remember, so we may return and live in Kashmir via our progeny.
The play conceptualised and written by Lakshmi Kaul, has been directed by Aarushi Thakur Rana. The performers are all Kashmiri Pan-dit children and their parents, each of them amateurs who connect to the journey in their personal lives. Each of them have a story to share, their own family’s story of resilience and survival.
Kota and her daughter Nainika
in the year 2019, London

The central character, Kota, has been inspired by the story of the Last Queen of Kashmir, Kota Rani, as told by Rakesh Kaul, a USA based writer who introduced Kota to the world via his lucid description of the 14th century ruler of Kashmir.
Kota as a bride-to-be
in the year 1990, Kashmir

The play is set in three time periods: 2019 where you meet Kota as a Mother; in 1990 where you meet Kota, the bride; and 14th Century where you meet Kota the Princess, who is at her Graduation Ceremony at Sharada Peeth University.

The play is presented to you in a way to not only tell the story of the journey, but also showcase the life, heritage, history and contribution of Kashmiri Pandits to the world.

'Traumatised Kota had to leave her home at the behest of Jehadi slogans'
Scene from: We Remember, a KPCS theatre production

At her Graduation exam, Kota faced sharp questions from Jyotish Pandit, the foremost astrologer; Koka Pandit, dedicated to life sciences and and Devaswami, the head of the Sharadapeeth University and Chief Tantri of the Associated temple
                                        Scene from: We Remember, a KPCS theatre production

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Invitation to "We Remember: The Journey of Kashmiri Pandits"

As historic events unfold in Jammu and Kashmir, the Kashmiri Pandits (Hindu minorities from Kashmir valley) continue to be in exile, bereft of justice. The journey home remains a dream yet life's challenges are bravely met with by courageous members of this small but significant community. 30 years equals an entire generation that has lived in suffering, physical as well as emotional. This is a journey of finding the homes that are lost, identity that has been targeted and a faith that has been attacked.
A poignant remembrance of the "Journeys of Homes" presented by the children and friends of the Kashmiri Pandit (Hindu) community celebrates the resilience and resolve of these individuals and families. Come and join us as we remember the sacrifices of those who laid their lives in this journey; as we look ahead to the resolve that our children present to look ahead and build a future, together.
Come and be part of a moving play conceptualised by Lakshmi Kaul, Directed and Written by Aarushi Thakur Rana, that depicts the journeys of exodus of Kashmiris living in the United Kingdom. The event showcases a special exhibition of life in Kashmir along with the Journey of Exodus, curated by the children both from the Kashmiri Pandit community and non Kashmiri families living in London.
A special key note address on the developments in J&K along with an insightful talk on the Kashmiri Pandit exodus will be delivered by Col Tej K Tikoo, a Kashmiri Pandit activist and political commentator from India.
In order to give a flavour of Kashmiriyat in the typical tradition of sharing a traditional meal, simple Kashmiri meal will be served for the guests attending.
The entire programme and effort is voluntary and is being curated, compiled and presented by a team of volunteers with a view to educate members of public on the struggles and journeys of resilience of this tiny but significant community.
Come, be a part of this journey on 14th September 2019 at the Zoroastrian Centre, Rayner's Lane.

Announcing the Parliamentary Launch of "Resilience: 30 Years in Exile"

Monday, 5 August 2019

KPs support the Article 370 Abrogation Announcement by PM Modi

The Modi government's decisions, to neuter Article 370 of our Constitution and to reorganise the State of Jammu and Kashmir, are truly epochal.

Article 370 was the veritable foundation on which a bigoted Muslim State of J&K was raised on the territory of secular India.

It took extraordinary political will and immense courage, to dismantle the privileged edifice that sustained jihad in Kashmir. No wonder this 'temporary' provision in our Constitution took so many decades to go. We, the patriotic Indians in general, and those from the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir strewn across the globe, in particular, are celebrating. Individuals or groups, speaking in our name to cast aspersions on the decisions and to attribute questionable motives, are a bunch of imposters trying to sow confusion and vitiate atmosphere. They never spoke up or acted as Kashmiri Pandits in the past even when the community was subjected to blood and gore and hounded out of the valley. Their dubious role in the past vis-a-vis the matter of Hindu genocide in Kashmir is a matter of record. Time and again they have emerged from the ranks of victims and survivors, only to collaborate with the perpetrators of our genocide and be complicit in their secessionist project. We, the resilient Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs, patriotic Kashmiri Muslims, valiant Dogras, proud Ladakhis and the rest of the conscientious Indians hail these emancipating decisions and cannot wait to see them implemented, resolutely, on ground.

We promise our unflinching support to the government for this cause and are available to contribute in all the manner we can. 

Bharat Mata ki Jai! 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Jammu and Kashmir Day Celebrated in UK Parliament: Patriot Maj Gaurav Arya as Guest of Honour

On 26th October 2017 Jammu and Kashmir day was celebrated for the third year in running in the UK Parliament to mark the 70th year of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India by the then Maharaja Hari Singh with a packed room and in the presence of key dignitaries. Originally celebrated as Accession Day, the date symbolises the union of the Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir with India which was later ratified in the State Assembly. 

To mark the occasion Major Gaurav Arya, a war veteran and former member of the XVII Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army was invited all the way from India to deliver the keynote address. The day was dedicated to the memory of the many soldiers and members of Indian Armed Forces who have sacrificed their lives on the line of duty. The programme was hosted jointly Jammu Kashmir Festival team led by Lakshmi Kaul, Curator & Director, Jammu Kashmir Festival and Bob Blackman MP. 

Watch Maj Gaurav Arya's speech by clicking here.

Ms. Madhu Sethi, Counsellor (Political and International Organisation) graced the occasion by her presence and also delivered a speech congratulating the Jammu Kashmir Festival team for commemorating the date as Jammu and Kashmir Day, establishing the importance and relevance of this date. Also present among the dignitaries was leading businessman and philanthropist Mr. Rami Ranger who in a highly emotive presentation gifted to Maj Arya “Don’t Break Up India”, a book on the life of his illustrious father Shaheed Nanak Singh. To honour Maj Arya and to mark the immense contribution of the Indian Armed Forces, Mr. Blackman presented the Indian symbol of remembrance, the Marigold Pin Badge as a token of love and respect to the Indian Armed Forces. Mr. Blackman while speaking of the importance of the date, 26th October displayed a copy of the Original Instrument of Accession saying that the accession was full and final and ratified via a completely democratic process. 
Lakshmi Kaul, Curator & Director, Jammu Kashmir Festival welcomed Maj Arya to the UK, “It is a pleasure and a privilege to have a soldier who not only fought on the line of action on ground zero defending the Indian borders but someone who despite a severe injury has continued to defend the honour of Mother India via his contributions in the media. Through him the members of public are able to see the true life of a soldier and what hardships they go through in defending the borders. The celebration of Jammu and Kashmir Day feels complete today as we honour the brave martyrs, the soldiers and jawans serving the Nation on the borders as we speak as well as their families who sacrifice a lot to make everyone feel safe and secure. We must never forget what they do for us. So today, as we celebrate 70 years of the founding of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, we must not forget the role of the Indian armed forces from across Army, Police, CRPF etc in defending the life and honour of the people of India.”

A unique opportunity for audience to hear the perspective of the Indian soldier that has been lacking in the UK saw a lot of enthusiasm and excitement in the audience. Known popularly as The Patriot, Maj Gaurav Arya delivered a highly inspirational speech with utmost humility, laying out facts on the table and busting some of the popular myths around the role of Indian Army in the K conflict. Introducing his regiment, he said, “I am from the Kumaon regiment and I am wearing my regimental tie today. In defending Kashmir and in defending Jammu and Ladakh, Maj Somnath Sharma posthumously received India’s first Paramveer Chakra and I am from his regiment.”

Stating that the Indian Army is a moral army, Maj Arya said, “Indian Army is a moral army and for 70 years, it has stood between India and misfortune. We are not strong simply because we have the best weapons, we are strong because we are right.” Acknowledging the gross human rights violations by Indian Army in Kashmir, Maj Arya said, “Yes there have been human rights violations by the Indian Army and it was wrong. Every one of the soldiers responsible for these violations have been punished; many of who are currently in the Tihar Jail in India. If a member of the Indian Army does wrong they are punished. However, there are gross human rights violations of the Indian Army personnel posted in Jammu and Kashmir, where they are abused and attacked by terrorists – what about the human rights of the army officers and jawans?” Maj Arya also acknowledged the gross human rights violations of minorities in Pakistan and those of the Kashmiri Pandits who suffered persecution at the hands of Islamist fundamentalism. He added that it was after the insurgency in 1989-90 that the Indian Army was first deputed in the valley. Prior to that there was no need for the Indian army to be present in the valley which was largely peaceful. 

Maj Arya’s hard-hitting speech dispelled a number of popular myths around the role of Indian army including the strength of the Indian army posted in Kashmir valley. He also spoke about the actual essence of ‘Azadi’ freedom struggle in Kashmir and said, “Whilst Jammu and Kashmir has its own flag and its own constitution, why then do the freedom fighters in Kashmir valley hoist ISIS or Pakistan flags? This is not an indigenous movement but a externally funded movement. None of the terror groups operating in Kashmir are of local, Kashmiri origin. They all have Arabic names. The only separatist organisation to have Kashmiri origin was the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which has now been dissolved.” A 25 minutes long keynote speech by Maj Arya was followed by an hour long Question and Answer session with the audience asking him questions ranging from the plebiscite and UN resolution to role of army on the Siachen glacier, questions were raised about the role of civil society in Pakistan and on the process of peace building which were responded to by the guest speaker. In responding to the question, how will we change the narrative, Maj Arya responded clearly, “We already have a narrative which simply needs to be discussed more often in the UK. The effort is to kill terrorism so that no terrorists are created and young people are prevented from being radicalised.” Upholding peace and harmony, Maj Arya said, “We want peace with Pakistan but we want peace with honour. We call India, Bharat Mata (our Mother India) – if we don’t defend your Mother’s honour then who will? As a soldier, I have no malice against the people of Pakistan – they are like us. The problem in Pakistan is not the people but the Deep State and the Pakistani Army. Once democracy prevails in Pakistan in the true sense, then India and Pakistan will have a peaceful co-existence.”

In addition to speaking at the Parliament, Maj Arya also participated in a panel discussion at Oxford University on Friday, 27th October. There was also a debate at Kings’ College London on Saturday, 28th October where he spoke along side academic and writer, Victoria Schofield, human rights activist and the son of JKLF Chief Hashim Qureshi, Junaid Qureshi; writer and human rights campaigner from Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhary; academic and political commentator, Prof Z U Khan and Lord Nazir Ahmed. The otherwise peaceful debate at Kings’ college was disrupted when Lord Nazir Ahmed spoke in a highly provocative tone against India and made direct attacks at the fellow panellists and audience, pointing fingers at them in a highly defamatory tone. It is alleged that Lord Nazir Ahmed tried to influence the student organisers to dropping Maj Arya from the panel and also tried to change the order of the programme on the day via his office. The student organisers and authorities have received complaints against Lord Nazir Ahmed since the event from the attendees.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

27 Years in Exile: We Remember

A lot of Hard work and convincing has gone into documenting the heartbreaking stories of community members who had to leave their centuries old abode due to the madness that plaugued Kashmir valley in 1989/90.
Since these are personal emotional accounts of the turmoil and the nightmare families had to go through , it remained etched inside memories and every time one would try to speak or think about it , a lump would block the throat.
All those who consider that the truth should come out , or who share the pain of being exterminated or being thrown out of their land should read these personal accounts to find out the real story of human tragedy , which has remained largely untold .
Available on Amazon for £2 and in print for £5 ( plus postage) to despatch in UK.
Brought to you by KPCS UK , compiled by Anupama Handoo.
Order your copy now.

BOOK LAUNCH: "Resilience" first person accounts of exodus launched by KPs in London

It's been a long and difficult journey- these past 30 years in exile. But we lived it with dignity and we showed Resilience in face of ...