Singapore bans The Kashmir Files over potential to cause enmity
Singapore has banned the release of The Kashmir Files “for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir”, three days before the film is to release on an OTT platform.
The decision was taken by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in consultation with the ministries of culture and home affairs, a media report said on Monday.
In a joint statement issued through the IMDA, they said the film had been assessed to be “beyond our Film Classification Guidelines” and that it had no place in Singapore’s “multi-racial and multi-religious society”.
Films that are refused classification in Singapore are banned and cannot be legally sold, rented, possessed, imported or made public in any format in the city state.
Vivek Agnihotri, the director of the highly polarising film that alleges “genocide” of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, described Singapore as “the most regressive censor in the world”.
The Kashmir Files, which released in theatres on March 11, was aggressively promoted by the Right wing led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi but was simultaneously accused by several quarters of being a propaganda vehicle aimed at vilifying Muslims.
The Kashmir Files is due for release on the OTT platform Zee5 this Friday.
The IMDA statement said: “The film will be refused classification for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. These representations have the potential to cause enmity between different communities, and disrupt social cohesion and religious harmony in our multi-racial and multi-religious society.”
The statement mentioned the provision under which classification was denied. The 18-page Film Classification Guidelines has a section on “General Principles and Considerations”, one of which is “Racial/Religious Harmony”.
“Classification should be sensitive to the concerns of different racial or religious groups and the need to safeguard racial and religious harmony,” the guidelines say.
The graded classification states that “films that are likely to denigrate any racial or religious group, or promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different racial or religious groups will be refused classification”.
According to the IMDA’s website, the Film Classification Guidelines sets out the general principles and content concerns that the authority considers in its classification process and aims to reflect community standards.
Besides taking on the Singapore government, Agnihotri lashed out at Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for posting an article from the Singapore media reporting that The Kashmir Files had been banned in that country.