The most remarkable, the most unprecedented event to have occurred this year till date, is that of a mere feature film turning into a mass movement, an emotion, an inspiration of providing voices to the voiceless, tortured group of people, who watched with horror all these years their tormentors turn into victims by sheer media jugglery and they were well forgotten.
Activist cum filmmaker, Vivek Agnihotri’s saga of the Kashmiri Hindu Holocaust of 1990, ‘The Kashmir Files‘ has taken the world by storm and is the primary topic of discussion in all fora – be it between friends over a cups of tea, in social media, in media circles, in tinsel town or in board rooms.
It has treaded into uncharted territory where no other filmmaker had dared to tread in the past for fear of backlash and hence they were always compelled to be politically correct causing their filmmaking to lose sting. But this one film did not deviate from the truth even by an inch and presented the stark reality of the Kashmiri Hindus being killed in the most macabre manner by none other than their very own neighbours, friends, colleagues and associates belonging to the significant ‘other’ community, under the toxic influence of our enemies from across the border.
Most of the Indians, including some members of the cast and crew of the film too, learnt about the ghastly incident for the very first time. The curiosity and emotion around the film is such that it is being screened in never thought of locations like the East European nation, Estonia which is home to around 150-200 Indians only.
The film has stirred up a hornet’s nest and the Congress party, which ruled our nation for nearly 7 decades since independence, is not amused. The Kashmir dispute was a thorn in their flesh since independence, which they failed to resolve or did not exhibit any desire to resolve, primarily due to their appeasement policy and liaison with the Kashmiri politicians. Their weakness in handling the issue saw the ‘dispute’ escalate to the UN and became a global issue for various, not-so-friendly nations to get back at us.
Their handling of the Kashmir issue with kid’s gloves saw the drastic rise of insurgency in the land leading to the killing of innocents and the matter reached it’s pinnacle in the late 80s when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India and Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
The radicals, whose aim was to cleanse Kashmir of the Hindus, occupy their property and establish their monopoly over the territory so that it would become that much easier for them to secede from India, started off their pogrom of Hindu killing on 14th September, 1989 and their first victim was Advocate cum BJP leader, Tika Lal Taploo, who was killed in broad daylight. Two months later, retired Sessions Judge, Nil Kanth Ganjoo, who had sentenced terrorist Maqbool Butt to death, was shot dead. Both these incidents of killing occurred while Rajiv Gandhi was still the Prime Minister.
Expectedly, the Congress is shaken by the instant film. Though no political party has been named in the film, but the Congress knows what they did with regard to the Kashmiri Hindus. Hence every time the aspect of governmental apathy was mentioned in the film, it is apparent that the Congress took it personally.
It is also thus, not surprising that they have scathingly attacked the film, calling it a political propaganda and a film that will breed hatred between the two communities. They even went to the extent of blaming the BJP for the Kashmiri Hindu massacre of 19th January, 1990 because the party with only 85 MP, had lent outside support to the V. P. Singh – led Janata Dal government, which was in power at the time.
However, when provided with data and facts about the brutality on Kashmiri Hindus and increase in terrorist activities in Kashmir during Congress rule, coupled with the incidents mentioned in the book ‘My Frozen Turbulence’ by Jagmohan, who was sent to Kashmir as the Governor on 20th January, 1990 to help bring about an end to the turmoil there, the Congress’s propaganda fell flat.
With all avenues of propaganda closed and sensing public fury against them, Congress set about the task of doing what they do best – Ban whatever does not suit their narrative. But now they donot have the power to impose a nationwide ban on the film because they are out of power. Gone are the days when they could easily ban the connoisseurs of performing arts like Hriday Nath Mangeshkar, for composing music for a poem written by Veer Vinayak Savarkar and Kishore Kumar, for refusing to accede to Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s request of promoting governmental agenda on radio and television. Besides, these, here is a long list of bans on books and cinema by the Congress under Nehru because the same went against their interests:
1. Majrooh Sultanpuri was jailed for his anti Nehru poem.
2.Ramesh Sehgal was asked to delete lines from his film,
3.Sahir Ludhianvi’s song was censored,
- Pradeep’s ‘Amar rahe ya pyaar’ was axed,
- Mark Robson’s 9 hours to Rama was banned,
- V.S.Naipaul’s – An area of darkness was banned,
- Campbell’s ‘The Heart of India’ was banned,
- Aurther Koestler’s The Lotus and the Robot was banned,
- Fischer’s Ayesha was banned,
- Bertrand Russel’s Unarmed Victory was banned,
- Chandan Mohini was banned,
- Taylor’s The dark Earth was banned,
- Selling Lady Chatterley’s lovers was banned,
- What has Religion done for Mankind was banned,
- Rawathnath Bhupathsingh’s was banned,
- Baig’s Captive Kashmir was banned,
- Mrinal Sen’s Neel Akshar Neechey was banned,
- Aubrey Menen’s ‘Rama the told’ was banned,
- Tony Hagen’s ‘Nepal’ was banned,
- Organizer was censored,
- Publishers prosecuted,
- Film ‘Gokul Shankar’ – 1963 was banned,
- ‘Godse’s testimony’ was banned,
- Goswami’s Film ‘Rumi’ was banned,
- Film ‘Bhool na jana’ was blocked,
- HARMONIUM was banned from AIR,
- Even President Rajendra Prasad’s book was banned,
- Draconian Press Matter Objection Act was passed,
- The Magazine ‘Cross Roads’ was banned.
Gulzar’s 1977 film, ‘Aandhi’, starring Suchitra Sen was banned because the Congress was under the impression that it portrayed Mrs. Gandhi in poor light. When they realized that the film had nothing to do with her, they lifted the ban. They created a similar fuss, storming theatres and demanding a ban on the film ‘ The Accidental Prime Minister’ based on the novel written by Sanjay Baru, the media advisor to the Ex Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh about the latter’s tenure in office.
That the Congress would try their level best in blocking ‘The Kashmir Files’ in whatever way they could, is also anyone’s guess. They imposed Section 144 in the city of Kota in Rajasthan ruled by them, for a period of one month, from March 22 to April 21. The reason stated was as bizarre as it could get – maintaining law and order during the screening of ‘The Kashmir Files’.
Though there were no reports of any law and order issues in Rajasthan with regard to the screening of ‘The Kashmir Files’, Rajasthan had been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. There has been an upswing in rape incidents in the state and instead of condemning the incidents and committing to mete out exemplary punishment to the rapists, we heard a Congress minister shamelessly defend the rape incidents in the Rajasthan Assembly, calling it a manly act which befits the state of Rajasthan – this being the worst possible insult that could be hurled at the state by the very ruling dispensation there. The BJP women’s wing, led by BJP MLA, Prahlad Gunjal took out a protest march on 22nd March, which they referred to as the ‘Chandi March’ against the Minister, Shanti Dhariwal’s remarks demeaning the women of the state and demanded his resignation. They also burnt the Minister’s effigy. The BJP MLA, Prahlad Gunjal felt that the Section 144 was imposed on March 22 to stall their march which was planned much earlier. He had stated that he decided to go ahead with it.
- The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress regime of Rajasthan also cited their apprehension regarding law and order issues during the celebration of certain upcoming festivals like Good Friday, Yatha Chetichand, Mahavir Jayanti, Baisakhi, and Jumatulvida because Kota was a communally sensitive city. There have also been instances of more than two dozen deaths due to drowning while swimming in the river Chambal and other rivers. This was also another reason for the imposition of Section 144 – to clamp down on such activities. A ban was also imposed on carrying any sort of weapon, including gupti, pistol, gun, rifle, stones, bricks, except for sticks by the old and infirm and the kripan by Sikhs.
With the frenzy over ‘The Kashmir Files’ and the Hindu nationalists uniting worldwide for the sake of this film, it was a foregone conclusion that the Congress will be able to retain the imposition of Section 144. There was a massive outrage nationwide with BJP MP and BJYM leader, Tejasvi Surya issuing a stern warning that if the Rajasthan government did not withdraw the Section 144 by March 22nd evening, then he with his BJYM team would gherao the Chief Minister’s residence at Jaipur.
The Congress government, fearing a terrible backlash, decided to withdraw the Section 144 within hours of Tejasvi Surya’s gherao declaration. They could not afford to take the risk of making a display of their old fascist form, given that the state goes to the polls within one and a half year’s time and nothing much to write home about their achievements in the past 5 years and also being a bit jittery with the party’s miserable performance in the recently concluded Assembly elections in five states.
- Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri claimed during an interview to a private news channel that the Section 144 had only been withdrawn from inside the theatre but it remained outside, thus posing difficulties for large family groups from entering the theatre together.
- When several BJP-ruled states like Haryana, UP, Tripura, Goa, Gujarat, MP and Assam have made the film Entertainment tax free, Rajasthan government’s decision to impose Section 144 not only acted as a spoiler but also revealed the vile, spiteful, undemocratic and hypocritical nature of the Congress , given that they often accuse the BJP of being fascist and hampering free speech, when it is they who have always tried to stifle the voices that rose against them on numerous occasions, right from the early years post independence. The said incident also revealed the power of nationalist unity which could force the fascist Congress too, to bow down to their wishes, something which they never did on earlier occasions.