New Delhi: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel Wednesday surprised many by saying that he would watch The Kashmir Files, a Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri-directed film on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the 1990s. However, he panned the movie after watching a late evening show.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders have hailed the film, which came out on 11 March, for portraying “the truth” about the exodus. Many BJP-ruled states have also made the film tax-free. Assam even declared a half-day holiday to allow state employees to go catch the film.
Hours after his announcement, Baghel turned up at a mall in Raipur to watch the movie. As he walked out, Baghel blamed the then BJP-supported central government (led by ex-PM V.P. Singh) for being unable to stop the exodus. He added that had it not been for former prime minister and Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi’s intervention, the Army would also not have not been called in at the time.
Moreover, Baghel said the film shows “only violence”.
Baghel’s call to watch the movie with legislators of the Chhattisgarh assembly came as a surprise because of the criticism his party colleagues had heaped on the movie.
On Wednesday, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said that “India is not a film but a reality”. “Modi ji should tell when our Kashmiri Pandits will be rehabilitated as his government is there both at the Centre and in J&K,” Surjewala added.
Also read: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat meets ‘The Kashmir Files’ director Vivek Agnihotri, says ‘truth-seekers’ should watch the film
Baghel invites MLAs to watch ‘Kashmir Files’
On Wednesday afternoon, Baghel said he had extended an invitation to all members of the Chhattisgarh assembly to watch a screening of The Kashmir Files with him at a theatre in Raipur.
Baghel and other MLAs watched the 8 pm show at Raipur’s Magneto Mall. Then the CM offered his review.
“The film shows that the government run with the help of the BJP did nothing to stop the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, rather they were asked to leave,” Baghel told reporters outside the theatre. “The Army wasn’t sent. It was only when Rajiv Gandhi, former PM, protested at the Lok Sabha, that the Army was finally called.”
The CM went on to add that the movie puts out “no message” and that “everything is incomplete”. “The movie only shows violence. When one faces the BJP, they run away. That’s why none of the BJP members from Chhattisgarh whom I invited came for the screening,” Baghel said.
Responding to demands by BJP legislators to make the film tax-free in Chhattisgarh as well, the CM urged the Modi government to remove GST requirements for the film so that it becomes “tax-free” across the country.
Political war over ‘Kashmir Files’
The Kashmir Files stars Pallavi Joshi, Anupam Kher and Mithun Chakraborty, among others.
At least six BJP-ruled states — Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and Goa — have made the movie tax-free so far.
Speaking at a BJP parliamentary party meeting this week, PM Modi appreciated the movie, saying that it “brings out the truth that has been suppressed for a long time”.
“People who always raise flag of freedom of expression are restless. Instead of reviewing on facts, campaign (is) being run to discredit it,” said the PM.
Other BJP leaders have also come out in appreciation of the film.
Glad to announce that our Govt employees will be entitled for half-day special leave to watch #TheKashmirFiles.
They will have to only inform their superior officers and submit the tickets the next day. pic.twitter.com/RNQzOk9iCK
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) March 15, 2022
Congratulations to @vivekagnihotri, @AnupamPKher and the team of The Kashmir Files for its resounding success. The stark and tragic Truth told brilliantly moves everyone. It is the chronicling of a Humanitarian Crisis that was ignored for many years. Well done. Jai Ho 🇮🇳🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/nC6sBzVdZC
— Kirron Kher (@KirronKherBJP) March 16, 2022
Nadimarg massacre. It was whitewashed by our “secular” media. #TheKashmirFiles talks about it.
In recent times, no cinema has united Indians the way Kashmir Files has.
That is the power of Truth. pic.twitter.com/3BjO1Qc4Kn
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) March 17, 2022
While the Opposition has largely stayed away from commenting on the issue, the Congress’ Kerala unit ruffled many feathers with a series of tweets on 13 March, all but one of which have been deleted now.
Facts about #KashmiriPandits issue:
BJP was engineering a Hindu-Muslim divide in the country over the Ram mandir issue in Ayodhya during the migration. Pandits’ issue suited BJP’s propaganda to create a fake outrage for electoral gain.#Kashmir_Files vs Truth (4/n) pic.twitter.com/zLq4wwR5qB
— Congress Kerala (@INCKerala) March 13, 2022
The party said that the Kashmiri Hindus left the Valley en masse under the direction of Governor Jagmohan “who was an RSS man”. It further alleged that the migration of Kashmiri Hindus “suited BJP’s propaganda” at the time, when it was “engineering a Hindu-Muslim divide in the country over the Ram Mandir issue”.
Later, Surjewala sought to highlight the fact that the exodus took place during the BJP-supported V.P. Singh government. He also claimed that successive Congress governments had tried to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)
Also read: Amit Shah calls The Kashmir Files ‘bold representation of truth’