Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Sunday slammed the makers of the film ‘The Kerala Story’, saying 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 the Home Ministry.
Vijayan also said the trailer of the Hindi film, at first glance, appears to be ”deliberately produced” with the alleged aim of creating communal polarisation and spreading hate propaganda against the state. He said 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 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”. The BJP, on the other hand, questioned how claims of religious terrorism being strong in Kerala can be interpreted as hate propaganda against the state. BJP state president K Surendran, in a Facebook post against the CM’s statement, claimed that it was former State Police Chief Loknath Behra, who was allegedly close to the Left party, who said presence of terrorist forces was strong in Kerala.
He also termed as ”double standards” the Kerala CM and ruling CPI(M) stand that freedom of speech and expression cannot be a justification for using cinema to spread sectarianism in the state and create divisions.
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”Freedom of expression is not a license to spread lies, communalise the society, and divide the people,” the chief minister said earlier in the day. Surendran said the chief minister and CPI(M) leaders, acting as ”apostles of expression”, are saying that the film — ‘The Kerala Story’ — should not be screened. However, it was freedom of expression when believers reacted against ‘Isho’ movie or when Christians were allegedly insulted in the play ‘Kakkukali’ and also regarding ‘Meesha’ novel and exhibition of M F Hussain’s paintings, Surendran contended.
On the other hand, the Left party did not see freedom of expression in the case of the question paper prepared by professor T J Joseph — whose hand was chopped off for allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammed in a test — or the play ‘Kitab’ or the film ‘Kashmir Files’, Surendran claimed. He alleged that the reason for this double standard was CPI(M) does not want anything to expose terrorism. The BJP state chief said people have seen through such ”selective secularism and selective freedom of expression” and the ”chief minister should understand that double standards for vote bank politics was more dangerous than religious fundamentalism”.
Surendran contended it was due to such selective responses of the chief minister and the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly that a situation has been created where alleged ”jihadis” were coming to Kerala to carry out terror acts in the country.
Vijayan, in his statement earlier in the day, 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 CM contended in his statement. Vijayan 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.
The Congress urged the government not to give permission to screen the controversial movie as it aimed to create ”communal divisions in society through false claims”. Sharing a poster of the movie, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram said on Twitter, ”It may be ‘your’ Kerala story. It is not ‘our’ Kerala story.”
The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the ruling CPI(M), had also lashed out against the film and said its trailer itself hurt religious sentiments and sought stern action against it.
‘The Kerala Story’, starring Adah Sharma, is set to be released in cinemas on May 5. Written and directed by Sudipto Sen, the film 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.
The film’s writer-director Sudipto Sen’s earlier movies are ‘Aasma’, ‘Lucknow Times’ and ‘The Last Monk.’ ‘The Kerala Story’ is backed by Sunshine Pictures Private Limited, founded by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, who serves as the producer, creative director and co-writer on the film.