In one of his last speeches on the Humanity tour in the UK, Vivek Agnihotri, director of the film The Kashmir Files, made an impassioned plea to Hindus to be united and spread the peaceful message of Dharma. He said that despite being pillaged by foreign rulers for nearly a thousand years, "when we found freedom, we shared that with everyone and gave equal rights to all".
Agnihotri spoke at the famous Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park in London, stressing on globalising the liberal and secular ethos of the Hindu community.
His movie, The Kashmir Files, has revived public interest in the communal killings of Hindus in Kashmir, and opened a debate on whether Kashmir had been a victim of ethnic cleansing—similar to what happened in Yugoslavia.
Last evening was HISTORICAL. Never ever so many Indians have gathered for a cause. This is our DISSENT. In a public park. People drove from Scotland/Midland just to hear me. London has never witnessed such a scene. Thanks and love everyone.#VRAAtHydePark#HumanityTour pic.twitter.com/3zL5h9C0Hq
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) June 13, 2022
Agnihotri appealed to the people to take a pledge to combat terrorism and spread the message of Dharma across the world. As he read out the message, the diaspora repeated the pledge after him. The local people kept interrupting his speech slogans. ‘Vande Matram’, ‘Jai Ho’, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.
“We worship our Gods. You stop us worshipping our Gods, we will start worshipping trees. You stop us worshipping the trees, we will start worshipping the sky. You stop us from worshipping the sky, we will sit down to meditate. You will stop us from meditating, we will seek God-like qualities. This is Dharma. This is what they fear. Dharma is what they fear", Agnihotri roared.
His Hyde Park speech was much different from his press conference in Delhi, held in the wake of the Foreign Correspondents Club and the Press Club of India cancelling his event.
Agnihotri and his actor wife Pallavi Joshi came to Hyde Park in London accompanied by bodyguards. The venue had the local police and other security keeping an eye on proceedings as he had been threatened by radical groups over the making of The Kashmir Files.
Talking about the security threat to him and Pallavi, Agnihotri said: "Everybody is advising me to be scared of them. Everyone told me not to make the film because Hindus cannot be victims of riots in India. Our voice has been silenced through intimidation and by global institutions".
Large numbers of Indians came in support of Vivek Agnihotri (Photo: Rahul Kumar)
Speaking about the Gyanvapi masjid case, he said: "People have abused Mahadeva. People have abused Lord Shiva. While our children are becoming doctors and engineers, their children are counting stones. This has to end."
People had come from outside London to hear him speak. Some had come from as far as Scotland for the event. The support extended by London organisations and the Indian diaspora to Agnihotri and Pallavi's Humanity tour has been tremendous. Many individuals and organisations have been working round the clock with the duo on their UK trip.
The excitement and enthusiasm among the diaspora was palpable. Manu Chandra, who works as a child psychologist and was one of the several passionate organisers for the Hyde Park event, said: “We are here for the cause of India and for upholding the freedom of speech. We should talk about the atrocities in Kashmir. These should be researched”.
“Governments come and go. Hindu civilisation stays because it is the longest and the oldest civilisation. It is the only surviving civilization in the world", Agnihotri said.
See the power of our film. Suddenly we have become united. The West should be told that we do not commit a genocide. We do not break the spiritual centres of other religions. We do not brainwash our children," Agnihotri told the large gathering.
While Agnihotri spoke, a large crowd of his detractors also assembled at the venue. Many got into arguments with the film director’s supporters. Armed with cameras and mobile phones, they heckled and provoked the peaceful Indian gathering comprising men, women and children.
A range of people from college students to the elderly had come to witness the event. A group of students, who did not want to be named, said that they knew about the Kashmiri Hindu genocide but not fully. One of them added that the genocide in Kashmir reminded them of the Crusades and the more-recent holocaust of the Jews in Europe”.
The Kashmir Files: Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and the battle for India’s soul
Vivek Agnihotri and Pallavi Joshi enjoy their moment in the sun, address the British parliament
(India Narrative spot report from Hyde Park London)