Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

A video of journalist Barkha Dutt speaking about how Kashmiri Pandits had gone from "privileged elites" to "hapless victims" has once again become a talking point on social media. The old video recently became a talking point among netizens with many demanding an apology from the famed journalist after a social media handle posted a reaction video of sorts.

Now, a bit of background. Some time ago a video had begun doing the rounds where Barkha Dutt can be seen on camera talking about the luxurious life the Kashmiri Pandits had once led in the valley, even though they had been a minority.

"At that time, they had monopolised government jobs, plum postings and other such social benefit," she can be seen saying. She adds that the economic disparity between them and the "poor Muslim majority was one of the earliest reasons for popular discontent".

Dutt for her part says that the comments have been clipped and taken out of context. In a 2018 tweet she said that the footage which has the NDTV logo on the side, was "clipped from a half an hour show on Kashmiri Pandits".

"Shame on all those who clipped a half hour show on Kashmiri Pandits to lie & peddle fake news about me. @AltNews pulls out the entire show on Kashmir Pandits: A forgotten Minority to show how the show was the EXACT OPPOSITE. Poor hatemongers caught lying as usual," she had written.

Why are people seeking an apology from Barkha Dutt in July 2020? What has happened now?

The current social media outrage stems in part due to a video that was posted to Instagram by a handle called the 'Kashmiri Youth Movement'. The group has its own website and calls itself a "a non-political student group of young Kashmiris born post exodus". It has more than 19,400 followers on Instagram.

"Barkha Dutt has justified the ethnic cleansing, mocked and hurt the sentiments of our community. We demand an apology," begins the IGTV video that was posted a day ago.

In the video a man can be heard saying that he would play the video clip for his grandmother. "Let's see what her opinion is on this," the individual adds off camera. We're Kashmiri Pandits, he clarifies.

After listening to Dutt, the woman says that she does not agree. "If we were so privileged, we would not have left. Even Barkha Dutt would have left if she had had to face whatever we did," she says.

The woman can be heard saying that from atrocities against women to being told that Kashmiri Hindus would not be spared -- there were many traumatising moments. The names of my children (one in Class 12 and the other in Class 8), she alleges, were written on mosques and they were labelled as Kashmiri Hindus. She says that it was after this that she and her family had travelled to Jammu.

"Whatever we earned, whatever wealth we had -- that was because of our own efforts," she adds. Calling Dutt's comments wrong, the woman adds that the journalist should apologise.

Following the video, the handle has also put up two other posts that seek an apology from the journalist. The topic has also been covered by some media organisations, with the call for an apology only being amplified over time. Many others have also criticised Dutt, and called upon her to make public amends. Others say that mere words would not be enough.

It must be mentioned that the authenticity of the video has not been proven. In this day and age, misinformation and fake news continues to be a problem, and so, we feel compelled to note that we only have the word of the people on the video, one of whom was only heard off camera. Additionally, we remain unaware about their names or any other personal details.

Having said that, there are also many others who have in the past spoken about the atrocities that had led to the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. It now remains to be seen if there is any follow-up to this specific incident.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

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