New Delhi: The West Bengal government on Monday announced its decision to ban the controversial film ‘The Kerala Story’. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “This is to avoid any incident of hatred and violence, and to maintain peace in the state.” The announcement to ban the film came just minutes after Banerjee alleged that “the BJP was funding a film on Bengal on the lines of Kashmir Files.” ‘The Kerala Story’ has created a buzz in the country since the release of its first trailer. The film has triggered an uproar in the state, with both the ruling party and opposition Congress calling it an effort to tarnish the state’s image and a bid to disturb its secular fabric. The film highlighted the forced conversion and radicalisation of women in the state. Also, the film highlights ‘Love Jihad’ propaganda.
10-point on the controversy:
- West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said the film “The Kerala Story” will be banned in the state, arguing that it may create unrest. “What is ‘The Kashmir Files?’ it is to humiliate one section. What is ‘The Kerala Story?’… It is a distorted story,” she said.
- Union Minister Anurag Thakur, who watched “The Kerala Story” in Delhi, hit out at Banerjee for banning the movie and said it was beyond his understanding why the TMC leader’s sympathies were with terror outfits and not with innocent girls from Kerala. “Their (opposition) face is getting exposed, they’re doing appeasement and vote bank politics. By banning the film (The Kerala Story), West Bengal is committing injustice. Recently only, a girl was raped and murdered in Bengal…what are you ( Mamata Banerjee) getting by standing up for such terrorists…” he said.
- Film producer Vipul Shah has also reacted to West Bengal’s decision and said, “If that is what she has done, we will take legal action. Whatever is possible under the provisions of law, we will fight,” he said.
- Kerala Leader of Opposition and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari asked if CM Banerjee sympathises with the terrorist organisation ISIS. “As far as I know, ‘The Kerala Story’ is based on the religious indoctrination in Kerala focussing on how women are radicalised by extremist religious clerics. This film articulates how women were converted in Kerala and were sent to countries like Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria to fight the radical terror outfit ISIS,” he said.
- BJP Bengal chief Sukanta Majumdar said that this shows the “hypocrisy” of the CM. “Banning this (The Kerala Story) film shows the hypocrisy of CM Mamata Banerjee. They criticized us once over the documentary on PM stating that there is freedom of speech. Now where is the freedom of speech? Why the government of Bengal has banned the film?” he said.
- The Kerala Story centers around alleged religious conversion in Kerala and claims that claimed that 32,000 women who went missing from Kerala and were then recruited to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) after being forced to convert to Islam. Also, the film highlights ‘Love Jihad’ propaganda, where Muslim men manipulate Hindu girls to convert to Islam and abandon their families.
- Following the release of the film’s trailer, a petition was filed at the Supreme Court seeking a stay on its release. However, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. “We do not entertain it on this ground and we grant liberty to the petitioners to move the high court. The high court can take this up for early hearing…” the top court said. Even several High Courts earlier refused to interfere in the release and screening of the film.
- Kerala’s ruling CPM and opposition Congress have accused the filmmakers and has demanded a ban on the film, which according to them is “full of lies and painted the Muslim community in bad light.” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that the film appears to have been deliberately made with the aim of communal polarisation and to spread hate propaganda against the state. He said that this fake story is the product of Sangh Parivar’s lie factory.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has backed the movie saying it “shows the ugly truth of terrorism and exposes terrorists’ design”. “Congress is opposing the film made on terrorism and standing with terror tendencies. Congress has shielded terrorism for the vote bank,” he said.
- Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh has made film tax-free. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said the film “exposes the conspiracy of love jihad, religious conversion and terrorism”. The Delhi BJP has demanded that the film be made tax-free in the national capital as well.
(With PTI inputs)
Also Read: ‘Distorted story’: Mamata govt bans ‘The Kerala Story’ in Bengal
Also Read: ‘The Kerala Story’ shows ugly truth of terrorism, Cong opposing it for sake of votes: PM Modi in Karnataka