Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday, 30 April, slammed the makers of the film The Kerala Story.
He said they were taking up the Sangh Parivar propaganda of projecting the state as a centre of religious extremism by raising the issue of “love jihad” — a concept rejected by the courts, probe agencies, and even the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
‘Deliberately produced to create polarisation’
Vijayan said that the trailer of the Hindi film, at first glance, appeared to be “deliberately produced” with the alleged aim of creating communal polarisation and spreading hate propaganda against the state.
He said that despite the issue of ‘love jihad’ being rejected by probe agencies, courts and the MHA, it was being raised in connection with Kerala as the main premise of the film only to humiliate the state in front of the world.
The chief minister, in a statement, said that such propaganda films and the alienation of Muslims depicted in them should be viewed in the context of Sangh Parivar’s efforts to gain political advantage in Kerala.
He also accused the Sangh Parivar of trying to destroy the religious harmony in the state by “sowing the poisonous seeds of communalism”.
Vijayan alleged that since the Sangh Parivar’s politics of division was not working in Kerala, as it did in other places, it was trying to spread it through a film based on “fake stories”, unsupported by any fact or evidence.
“In the trailer of the movie, we see a hoax that 32,000 women in Kerala were converted and became members of the Islamic State. This bogus story is a product of the Sangh Parivar’s lie factory,” the chief minister contended in his statement.
He said that freedom of expression cannot be a justification for using cinema to spread sectarianism in the state and create divisions.”It is not a licence to spread lies and communalism and divide the people in the state,” he added.
Viayan urged Malayalis to reject such moves and be vigilant against the attempts to spread communal unrest in the society through false propaganda. He also warned of legal action against anti-social activities
A couple of days ago, both the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala and the opposition Congress hit out at the controversial upcoming movie The Kerala Story, saying freedom of expression was not a licence to spew venom in society, and the film was an attempt to destroy the communal harmony of the state.
After the release of the trailer, CPI(M) MP John Brittas posted a letter which he said he had sent to Union Home Minister Amit Shah last year when the movie’s teaser was released.
“The teaser claims to be depicting the story of 32,000 women from Kerala, who were radicalised to join the ISIS terrorist group, which is rubbish and fallacious,” he said.
On Friday, Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan urged the state government not to permit to screen the controversial movie, as it aimed to create “communal divisions in society through false claims”.
Satheesan rejected the claims of the movie’s makers and said it was clear that the film intended to tarnish the image of Kerala at the international level.
“Permission should not be given to screen the film that falsely claims that 32,000 women in Kerala were converted to Islam and became members of ISIS,” the Congress leader said.
The trailer of the film itself tells what the movie is trying to say, said Satheesan in a statement.
“This is not an issue of freedom of expression but part of an attempt to implement the Sangh Parivar agenda of creating division in the society by casting aspersions on the minority groups,” he said.
All India Youth Federation (AIYF), the youth outfit of the CPI, sought a ban on the exhibition of the film.
‘Attempt to create communal riot’
Speaking to South First, the AIYF’s Kerala State Committee secretary TT Jismon called the movie “an attempt to create a communal riot in Kerala”.
He said, “The claims made in the movie are not backed by facts. They are trying to make a blatant lie appear as the truth. The movie is a planned attempt to break the religious harmony existing in Kerala.”
He said although he and his organisation always stood up for the freedom of speech and expression, it was also important to stand up against false propaganda and divisive forces.
He also appealed to the Union government to withdraw permission to exhibit the film.
The Kerala Story, written and directed by Sudipto Sen, is portrayed as “unearthing” the events behind “approximately 32,000 women” allegedly going missing in the southern state. The film falsely claims they converted, got radicalised and were deployed in terror missions in India and the world.
(With PTI inputs)