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The information and broadcasting ministry has raised objections to wrongful depiction of J&K’s boundaries in a map shown in Tom Cruise-starrer Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

The ministry said the cuts in the Indian version of the movie don’t apply to its global version, and has asked the MEA to intervene.

ThePrint asks – Censorship of Mission Impossible for J&K map: Hyper nationalism or a genuine diplomatic concern?

Global censorship of the movie cannot be enforced

K.C. Singh
Former diplomat

When it comes to the map of Kashmir, India has always been sensitive. Customs has held up magazines for decades wherein they believed the portrayal was wrong. We’ve gone and put black strips on such “misrepresented” maps. When it comes to Kashmir, we are sensitive about what we perceive as cartographic aggression.

I did watch the movie, and there are references to Kashmir. However, I don’t even remember seeing the map. Perhaps, I missed it. Many others would have too. But by asking for global censorship, the MEA has only drawn attention to an issue that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Such a move also shows insecurity. Moreover, global censorship cannot be enforced. Prints of the movie have already reached several countries across the globe. What will we do, go around pleading them to change the prints? What if some countries refuse? It is practically impossible to implement such a directive.

The BJP is more nationalist in sentiment, so it will go the extra mile. It has made a statement challenging the portrayal. It has registered the protest. Now, it should leave it at that. The issue will soon be forgotten.

India has been historically poor with cartography, and that poverty continues till date

Manvendra Singh
Editor, Defence and Security Alert, and BJP MLA 

Since the Jammu & Kashmir issue was born out of Partition and the conflict that followed, India has consistently stuck to the line that the whole state is an inalienable part of the country. This position has been repeated ever since, and remains a policy declaration as well as a parliamentary resolution. Wars have been fought over this territory, and a campaign of insurgency continues in a bid to wrest it away.

The parliamentary resolution and the previously declared policy show the map of J&K as it was on 15 August 1947, including Mirpur, Hunza, Gilgit, Shaksgam and Aksai Chin – except that these areas are not under Indian administrative or political control.

But the policy declaration has remained unchanged for decades. And, as part of this policy declaration, some bureaucrat passed an edict decades ago that every map of India must show boundaries as depicted on 15 August 1947. This has become the governing mantra, at least since the 1965 war.

Every copy of an imported magazine would have a smudged stamp on it declaring that the boundaries depicted were not true. The magazine may have been high-brow or pulp, each met the same fate.

So, censoring the new Tom Cruise thriller is par for the course. It is merely a policy reiteration and has nothing to do with hyper-nationalism or diplomatic concerns. Whether that policy makes sense in the digital era transmission of imagery is another matter altogether. India has historically been poor with cartography, and that poverty continues with 20th century policies being followed in the 21st century.

New Delhi must get rid of ‘disputed territory’ tag on Jammu and Kashmir
Aman M. Hingorani
Advocate on Record & Mediator, Supreme Court and author of Unravelling the Kashmir Knot

This controversy yet again highlights how imperative it is for New Delhi to get rid of the ‘disputed territory’ tag on Jammu and Kashmir. Legally and constitutionally, the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir became an integral part of India when its sovereign ruler unconditionally acceded to India in terms of the same law that created modern-day India and Pakistan.

I have written in detail in my book, Unravelling The Kashmir Knot, how New Delhi, that viewed such accession as being ‘provisional’ and subject to plebiscite, allowed Pakistan to enjoy the fruits of aggression by inviting the UN to meddle, and even sought to maintain territorial status quo by initially disowning the territory of J&K occupied by Pakistan and China (as well as the unfortunate people residing there who happen to be Indian citizens). Having so bungled, New Delhi can keep harping about J&K being an integral part of India, but the rest of the world simply does not agree – leading to controversies like the one currently.

I believe that New Delhi should refer the Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to confirm its title to J&K. I have detailed in my book why the ICJ is likely to confirm India’s stand, and how such authoritative pronouncement will alter the national and international political discourse in India’s favour. This, of course, would only be the first step to resolve the Kashmir issue. A lot more would need to be done for New Delhi to regain its moral authority to be in J&K.

CBFC’s demand for changes is absolutely correct

Gautam Chintamani
Film Historian

In my opinion, the Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) decision to demand certain changes in Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout after the film referred to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir as ‘India controlled Kashmir’ is absolutely correct and, in fact, much needed. For a powerful and expressive medium such as cinema, and the popular variety featuring global box-office stars such as Cruise, what it shows reaches billions of people.

For me as an Indian, any foreign understanding or interpretation of issues pertaining to Kashmir is secondary. Why should we as a sovereign nation entertain the kind of rhetoric that has been peddled far too long by a third party? The members of the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir following the 1951 elections not only unanimously ratified the state’s accession to India in 1954 but also drafted the state’s constitution that came into force in 1957 and clearly stated that – ‘The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India’.

Films such as the Mission: Impossible series pride themselves on being inspired by the ‘real’ world that surrounds us and, as a result, lead people to believe that the events depicted are plausible. In this light, if a film states something that is both historically and factually incorrect, then it’s the duty of a body such as the CBFC to ensure it’s rectified. I would go to the extent of saying more power to MEA, the government of India and CBFC.

At best, India can register a token diplomatic protest

Amrita Nayak Dutta
Special Correspondent, ThePrint

India is not happy with what it feels is an inappropriate depiction of Jammu & Kashmir in the dialogues as well as in the maps shown in latest Tom Cruise super hit –‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’. However, there is not much the Indian government can do beyond registering a token diplomatic protest.

The issue has hit the government’s raw nerve. The government feels it would hurt India, given its stance on Kashmir in the United Nations, and create a wrong perception among the global audience about Kashmir when the situation in the Valley is deteriorating.

While India’s film certification body has managed to get all Kashmir references and maps removed or altered for the film’s India release, the country’s archaic Cinematograph Act does not apply to other countries in the world. The concept of censorship in films is virtually non-existent in several countries.

The government needs to understand that a filmmaker can exercise a certain degree of freedom of speech, and several aspects in a film are subject to interpretations. For instance, a filmmaker can interpret a terrorist as a martyr or an independence movement as a separatist movement. While it can exercise control over those interpretations within the country, it cannot control them beyond that. Hollywood films, rather, have been depicting struggles between ideologies and freedom movements, with the filmmaker’s interpretations.

In this case, the government can at the most approach the issue through diplomatic channels or possibly write to the producer requesting removal of the references that it feels are offensive. But there is no way it can coerce the producer if s/he does not agree to the request.

Compiled by Deeksha Bhardwaj, journalist at ThePrint.

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