February 16th, 2014
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You can’t have a second censor board

Bila A Jan's interview, You can't have a second censor board

Bilal A Jan, who directed the documentary which reveals the untold story of mass rape by the Indian Army in Kunan Poshpora in Kupawara district 1991 and double rape in Shopian. Detailed interview with Anees Chelari  shares his experiences and view points towards the increasingly fascistic face of democratic India.

What factors led you to make this documentary and your experiences of working on it?

A: Well, I was working on my first documentary “The lost child”, on child rights. During my research, I found a lot of interesting subjects which no one has yet touched in Kashmir, particularly issues of women. See, everybody talks about women empowerment in Kashmir and there has been a lot of work in this regard.

I also saw a large amount of human right violations in Kashmir due to the conflict, which India and Pakistan deliberately started in Kashmir, in the last 23 years. I found more of grief and pain in Kashmir than empowerment. That realization led me to this.

Every time the political leaders talk loudly of us being the largest democratic nation, there is a big irony as we are not letting the people of Kashmir to enjoy this democracy

A: Yes, there is a big irony that if we speak about the democratic setup of India we should learn how we can maintain it and make sure each and every citizen of this nation is free to feel like Indian. But it just seems like the country is democratic sometimes and at other times, undemocratic, particularly they are biased when it comes to Kashmir.

It is not just the Union Government that is biased, but the press, youth and the general populations are all biased towards Kashmir. So the issue is that they are not able bear the truth of what is happening in Kashmir.

Of course the fascist supporters of BJP and RSS who accused that it is a terrorist film and funded from Pakistan, have not seen the film. How can they talk about it without watching? Such elements are gaining power in all parts of India and it is very unfortunate for this democracy.

BJP-RSS, the right wing goons protest against film, Ocean of the nations.

The protesters allege that the documentary is trying to tarnish the image of the Indian army and that it was made by Pakistan terrorist agents.

{laughing}  It is un true, it is totally wrong , the film is not produced by Pakistan, it is produced by an Indian organization, Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT), which have some big guns of Indian cinema (Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal etc) on board.

And the allegation of tarnishing the image of the Indian army is also untrue. We speak the fact. You can check the National news papers of the 1990s, particularly Indian express, you can see these facts. Wajad Habeebulla who is a minority commissioner right now, was the commissioner of fact finding commission at Kunan Poshpora, apart from the eminent journalist B.G. Verghese.

But the fascistic state made sure that the report went missing and was never published. The state machinery fabricated it and later there was a report in Indian express in which Wajad Habeebullah says that it is a sad thing that the nation cannot protect individual freedom. Even the state Human Rights Commission found the case to be true and they have written to the Government of India. So it’s a fact and how can they say it’s maligning the defense forces?

 Stereotyping ?

A: If you think in terms of Kashmir in the context of human rights violations, it connects with the politics of Kashmir. People of India should understand the fact that Kashmir was not a part of India before 1947 and it was not a part of India after 1947. It is disputed, and we have got the five resolutions from UN that Indian and Pakistan should vacate from Kashmir and the both armies should leave Kashmir.

Ocean of tears a film from Kashmir by Bilal A JalanSo it is freedom struggle for them to fight for their individual rights. It is not terrorism, but somebody’s criminal is some one’s hero. In our nation we have Bhagat singh, we address him as hero. He is a hero for us but according to the British, he was a terrorist. The people of Kashmir also fight for the freedom to demand a better life. But the fascist powers brand them as militants.

They say, Kashmir is the crown of India , where is the crown if u kill your own people, you are torturing your own people , molesting your own people, then  how come Kashmir is the crown? I am asking this to the Indian regime, am asking to the people of India.

We are talking about Kashmir as a part of India , so let it be, let Kashmir feel as a Indian but you never gave chance to Kashmir to feel that they are a part of our own.  They have been alienated. And you need AFSPA to kill your own people. We don’t need it. If you think Kashmir is ours let them be a part of India, if you don’t think so, leave them alone.

Is there cultural fascism in the case of Kashmir?

A:  I can say in Kashmir the government snatched our language. That can be considered as the biggest fascism. You speak Malayalam, you have right to speak Malayalam, you write in Malayalam, you have books in Malayalam, you have history in Malayalam. We don’t have, they won’t allow us to teach Kashmiri language or to speak it.

We have our own Kashmiri history which is not allowed to be taught in schools and colleges. So they have snatched our history, snatched our language and our creativity. This is one of the biggest cultural fascism ever.

Do you have hope in democratic platforms like VIBGYOR ?

A: Definitely, it is a ray of light and it can spread all over India. We need more spaces like vibgyor which is ready to raise the voice and hit back against the fascistic forces.  I can screen my film anywhere in India and it will be screened.

Did you think of clarifying your position to the protesters?

A: No, it’s up to the vibgyor authorities and government. It’s is the first time a political party came forward against this film and me. Usually, the state and police stop my film beforehand. Here, BJP came and now it has gone beyond being a law and order problem. The Kashmir Collector told me it may trigger a law and order problem, that’s why they just banned the film in Kashmir.  My film has censorship certificate. So, how can this film break the law? You can’t have a second censor board.

It’s very strange. The film has got a U certificate from the censor board, which means unrestricted viewing…So when they told me the reason might be a law and order problem, I said ‘what are you saying’. They said they are sorry, but I was a little bit disturbed. My question to them is what could be the law and order problem if it has been passed by the highest body?

The problem is in the mind of the viewer, rather than in the film?

A: In India is not a democratic nation, it is fascist regime which does not allow us to speak the truth. They have to accept the truth. If there any army personnel involved in crime, they have to accept.  If you are not ready to accept the truth, how can we say we are a democratic nation? It is a failure.

Did the Kunan Poshpora victims co-operate with you?

A: It is so humiliating for them to narrate and re-narrate what happened on that night. Many women say that in the film. I always kept in touch with the victims, and focused not just on the incident, but their struggles and worries in its wake. Eventually they co-operated with me. A woman comes forward and shows the scars on her stomach, yet another speaks of the medical expenses she incurs monthly.

Another important segment of the film deals with the issue of disappearances. This is one of the largest and biggest issues. We have more than 10,000 disappeared persons, according to an unofficial record. Every month their families hold protests but no one has heard their voice so far. So I think if I could show it, maybe someone could come forward and address their issues as well.


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