The Kashmir Files backed by PM, FM, CMs; continues to fuel divide

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has now planned to see the film tonight, BJP ruled states have made it tax free

Bhupesh Baghel

It is astonishing to see how the entire government machinery in many states and even some top Union government officials are going all out to promote one movie. The movie in question is The Kashmir Files, directed by Vivek Agnihotri and documents the trials and tribulations of the Kashmiri Pandit community that was forced to leave their homes in wake of a Pakistan sponsored intimidation campaign in the region in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The film’s biggest endorsement has come from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who met the filmmakers, and also defended and praised the film. He mocked a ‘jamaat’ that he claims “walk around with the flag of ‘freedom of expression’”. The PM added that the criticism of the film was a “conspiracy is being run by an entire ecosystem”.

The PM’s words were echoed, and added to in Parliament by Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman who added that the previous “National Conference led government”  and the Congress were involved in facilitating the exodus. She said women were raped “in front of their husbands…I can’t even utter this” adding that while this happened in Kashmir in 1990 the truth never came out and there was and is “a constant denial”.

Meanwhile, the right wing ecosystem has been promoting  as the ‘truth’ and also fanning flames of anti-Muslim hate, both online and offline. While at the same time, many Kashmiri Pandits themselves have said that the film has sensationalised the issue, and not addressed  their real concerns which have been ignored by multiple governments so far. This BBC video report posted to Twitter brilliantly captures how Kashmiri Pandits feel.

The Kashmir Files hit the theatres on March 11, and stars Agnihotri’s wife Pallavi Joshi, Darshan Kumar, and veteran actors Anupam Kher and Mithun Chakroborty in key roles. Chief ministers of many BJP-ruled states have posted images of themselves watching the movie with their cabinet colleagues. In fact, chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand have made it tax free in their states. Many non-BJP leaders have called the film a ‘propaganda’, aimed at harvesting hate in the run up to the 2024 general elections. 

Therefore, it was more than a surprise when Congress ruled Chattisgarh’s Chief Minister Bhupesh Bahgel “invited all MLAs in the state” to join him for a screening of the film ‘The Kashmir Files,’ on Wednesday. He said, “I have invited all members of the assembly, from across party lines, for a screening of the film ‘The Kashmir Files.’ At 8pm tonight, all those who have been invited will watch the film together at a cinema hall in the capital.” The screening is to be held at Magneto Mall in Raipur.

Baghel added that as “BJP MLAs have demanded that ‘Kashmir Files’ should be made tax free. I request the Hon’ble Prime Minister to announce the removal of Central GST from this film. The film will be tax free across the country.”


He later told the media that he will watch the film and then give his comments.

In wake of the movie’s release, Hindutva-driven hate has been spreading on social media with cries of India’s Hindus to open their eyes. While it is not surprising that right-wing extremist elements would resort to such actions, what is shocking is that this time BJP ministers and government officials are going out of their way to make the movies accessible to the masses.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced half-day leave for government employees who want to watch the movies, saying all they needed to do was bring back the ticket stubs as evidence the following day. But this move backfired and drew him criticism from various quarters:




Maintaining harmony is responsibility of Muslims: Assam CM
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