Activists say banning books, films is ‘terrorism’

June 15th, 2008 - 12:02 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Narendra Modi

Mumbai, June 14 (IANS) Filmmakers, writers and activists here Saturday said violence against creativity that lead to demands for banning books and films is “terrorism”. The filmmakers and activists were speaking at panel discussion on “Ban the Book, Flaunt the Film” organized as a part of a two-day premiere of the Osians’s-Cinefan Film Festival of Asian and Arab cinema.

“While in a democratic country, everybody has a right to protest, nobody has the right to resort to violence. But, as things stand today, the protest, any kind of protest, takes an ugly turn. When some people get violent demanding ban of a book for whatever reason, it amounts to terrorism,” said writer Nayantara Sahgal.

Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia reflected on the political interference, which led to the ban of his movie “Parzania” in Gujarat.

“I believe that after a film is cleared for exhibition by the Central Board of Film Certification, nobody has the right to demand a ban on it or disrupt its screenings. But in the case of ‘Parzania’, it is the Gujarat government which has put a bar on its exhibition in the state,” he said.

He disclosed how Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi asked him to arrange a special screening of the movie for Babu Bajrangi, saying that if he found nothing objectionable in it, the government would have no hesitation in clearing the movie’s exhibition in Gujarat.

“How could I have arranged a special screening for the man at whose instigation the Gujarat riots had taken place?” Dholakia asked.

Flavia Agnes, women’s rights activist and lawyer, stated a book or a movie should essentially be judged on the basis of its aesthetic value and for no other consideration.

She held the media responsible for indirectly encouraging intolerance in society by highlighting issues which should otherwise be condemned.

Opposing the views of Agnes, journalist and Shiv Sena MP Bharat Kumar Raut said that in the atmosphere of intolerance, the media could do little but reflect on the issues that create violence.

“But we, as journalists, cannot initiate corrective steps because the days of ‘enlightening journalism’ no longer exist today. That’s the reality, whether one likes it or not,” Raut said.

He said just as someone has the right to protest the ban a book or a film, some others have also the right to demand a ban on it from their perspectives without resorting to violence.

“While raising a voice against intolerance, one also needs to be tolerant to appreciate the other man’s point of view,” Raut held.

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