Singapore has banned a popular film about Hindus fleeing Indian-controlled Kashmir because of its “provocative and one-sided portrayal” of Muslims, which officials worry may “create hatred amongst various populations.”
The Kashmir Files, which was released in March, details how roughly 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus, known as Pandits, were forced to flee the Muslim-majority territory after rebel attacks in 1989 and 1990, when armed resistance to New Delhi’s control started.
Official data suggest that up to 219 Hindus have been slain.
The 170-minute Hindi-language film was by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Hindu nationalist supporters, and it is one of the year’s highest-grossing films in India.
Modi said after the film’s release that it revealed the truth and that “vested interests” were trying to discredit it.
“They are surprised, without specifying who he was referring to. The truth that buried for so many years is out and is backs by facts.”
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However, critics also claims that the film is inaccurate and that it addresses issues that relates to Modi’s Hindu nationalist government’s political goal, which accused of marginalizing and vilifying Muslims.
“The film will be denied classification due to its controversial and one-sided representation of Muslims, as well as images of Hindus persecuted in the ongoing war in Kashmir,” the Singapore government stated in a statement to the media on Monday.
“These depictions have the potential to create animosity between different communities, as well as damage social cohesion and religious peace in our multi-racial and multi-religious community,”
However, The majority of Singapore’s 5.5 million residents are ethnic Chinese, Malays, and Indians. The closely governed Southeast Asian country has severe regulations that penalise anybody who tries to sabotage interracial or religious peace.
For fear of inflaming divides, it periodically censors films and publications, prompting some to mock it as a “nanny state.”
Vivek Agnihotri, the film’s director, slammed the decision on Twitter, calling Singapore the “world’s most backward censor.”
After a violent rebellion against Indian sovereignty in Kashmir erupted in 1989, thousands of people fled the valley, many of them Hindus.
The Kashmir Files follows a university student who learns of his parents’ deaths in Kashmir in the 1990s, a disputed area partitioned between India and Pakistan since 1947.
Supporters of the film believe it brings attention to an often-overlooked piece of the region’s history, while detractors say it demonstrates Modi’s rising religious polarization since taking office in 2014.