In 1988–89, after the US-backed Islamist mujahideen drove out the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, some of their mercenaries and arms were sent to Kashmir to launch ‘jihad’ against India. The Sharia code and Islamist diktats — imposition of burqa (veil), shutting down of cinemas, prohibition of alcohol, banning of books and magazines, burning of schools, killing of minorities etc. — became a norm in Kashmir as they did in Afghanistan. While thousands of Afghans were fleeing from the wrath of the US-sponsored mujahideen, the ethnic Kashmiri Pandit/Hindu minority fled from Kashmir to escape the Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorists.

At the forefront…


One of the biggest highlights of my childhood in Kashmir was that one day our teacher at Army school in Anantnag announced that the students of lower classes had the opportunity to be in a movie with Bollywood superstars who were coming with a production crew to shoot for a film in the Valley.

It was a star-studded movie: Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Rajinikanth, Sridevi and Jaya Prada. The movie was called ‘Farishtay’ (Angels).

As a child, the only name that left my heart racing in that phenomenal list of actors was ‘THE’ Sridevi. I felt butterflies in my stomach thinking…


I didn’t have time to watch ‘Shikara – The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits’, the Vidhu Vinod Chopra movie, when it was released in theatres, two months ago. I was extremely busy at work at that point. During the coronavirus lockdown day 13, stumbled on it while scrolling through the new movies list on Amazon video. Was quite surprised to see it is already there. I watched it on television late last night.

I will not get into the merits/demerits of cinema involved in the movie; enough has been written about it already by art connoisseurs. Though inspired by Rahul…


February 19, 2020

One of my earliest memories is that of a childless Muslim couple, our family friends, who would drop everything to babysit me and listen to my endless chatter. Whenever my mother was busy at home, she would leave me at their small house in a narrow lane, just half a mile away from ours in Kashmir.


Beware young people! Today, on January 19, the 30th anniversary of Kashmiri Pandit exodus day, anyone telling you that militancy in Kashmir, 30 years ago, was a mass uprising for a secular independent Kashmir, is LYING to you. From Allah Tigers, Al Fatah to JKLF, each terror group issued Islamist threats and targeted Hindu minority in the name of Islam.

The circumstances under which Pandits were forcibly driven out from Kashmir in 1990 are often distorted by political parties. The Islamist attacks on Pandits – the trigger for their exodus in 1990 actually began in 1989, when the country was…


Ms. Singh Goes to Washington

On October 22, as I walked out of Room 2172 in Rayburn House Office Building, I felt like the country bumpkin character Jefferson Smith, played by actor James Stewart in the 1939 movie classic, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.”

I had come to Washington from my home in New Delhi, India, to testify as a witness at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on human rights in South Asia, with the expectation that U.S. lawmakers would be interested in seeking truth.

As a journalist, I have reported on Kashmir for almost two decades, on…


The lecture ‘Kashmir-The State & The Status, Manthan Samvaad 2019’ by Srinath Raghavan on Article 370 is not only intellectually dishonest but also a very selective reading of history. The biggest claim he makes in his lecture is that militancy in Kashmir is a result of the erosion of Article 370. He offers no evidence but presents correlation as causality. There is no causation whatsoever and at one level, even correlation is not necessarily true.

The erosion of Article 370, in absolute terms, began with the 1952 Delhi agreement between Sheikh Abdullah and JL Nehru, itself. Further dilution of Article…


Thirty Years Later

Apart from the memories, where do I go to, today? What do I visit? I thought of going home but there is none. So I decided to go to the palace which my grandparents called and my parents still call home of the universe, the cave in which you find yourself, the core of the mountain.

I climbed up and down 288 steps. Stood there, danced and melted away. I walked down miles of fragrance of the forest of a life and home which live somewhere in the clouds.

We walked and spoke for hours, trying hard…


She wanted

To know

His Birth

I had forgotten

I searched

I stumbled

On Life

On Love

On Happiness

On Hurt

On Memory

I saw

A Dam

The Flood.


In her popular autobiographical book ‘Wild Swans’ that spans three generations of China, Jung Chang while describing the Mao cult during the Cultural Revolution, wrote, “Many people had been reduced to a state where they did not dare even to think, in case their thoughts came out involuntarily. Even if they did entertain unorthodox ideas, few mentioned them to their children, as they might blurt out something to other children…”

One would think since his death in 1976, Mao Zedong who was responsible for the death of over 70 million Chinese, the nature of the Dragon would have changed due…

Aarti Tikoo

Writer. International Relations, Politics, Economics, History and Literature.

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