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India: Film about Punjab terrorism banned

8 April 2013

The controversial film ‘Sadda Haq’, based on Punjab terrorism, has been banned by the Punjab government on the grounds that it will disturb communal harmony. Producers want the government to reconsider the ban.

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Also, the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Tejinder Khanna issued a ban order, prohibiting the release of the film in the capital Delhi, invoking Section 13 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to “maintain communal harmony”. A Punjab unit of the Shiv Sena had demanded a ban on the film and threatened to protest if it was shown in theatres.

The film, made from the point of view of Sikh militants, depicts some landmark happenings of the Khalistan movement during the 1980s and 1990s.


“Touched a raw nerve”
Producers Kuljinder Sidhu and Dinesh Sood want the government to reconsider the ban on the film. They have appealed to the government to form a committee of writers, community leaders and Sikh scholars from Punjab to review the film and decide if it should be banned. Their Jalandhar-based production house, OXL Pvt. Ltd, is planning to move court if the government does not reconsider its decision.

The government decision came hours before the film was to be released, after a panel of senior civil and police officers saw it. In October 2012, the Central Board of Film Certification objected to the film but eventually cleared it with a U certificate, thanks to the intervention of the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), an apex body for Sikh preaching, and some Hindu organisations of Ludhiana.

Sikh writer and journalist Baljit Balli says the film has touched a raw nerve with the Punjab police because many of its top officers have been shown in a poor light. “It tells a bitter truth about the phase of terrorism in Punjab, but is not the complete truth as it glosses over the losses suffered by the police and victims of terrorists. Since there is no closure of that violent phase of Punjab’s history and no universal acceptability of events, there are bound to be different reactions.”

Many have also taken exception to a promotional song for the film called ‘Baghi’ (‘Rebel’) sung by controversial Punjabi singer Jazzy B., for describing terrorists as rebels, who fought for Sikh causes.

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“Although there is a difference between hate speech and free speech—and under no circumstances should films spreading hatred should be allowed to go unchecked—there is nothing in Sadda Haq that suggests hatred against any community.
It is a separate matter that the film has its own weakness and is one-sided propaganda, but this does not justify a ban,” wrote Gurpreet Singh, a journalist based in Canada writing for Georgia Straight and the host of a programme on Radio India:

“If people in India can watch a play based on the confessional statement of Nathu Ram Godse—a Hindu extremist who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation—why is there such a hullabaloo over Sadda Haq?
The play about Godse has been enacted number of times in India, where crowds cheer him as a hero. Has this really belittled Gandhi? Obviously not. The ban on Sadda Haq therefore needs to be reviewed. Until that happens, nothing can really stop people from watching the film at theatres in Canada and the U.S.
Thanks to the curiosity generated by the ban, the film has proven to be a crowd puller in this part of the world. It has established beyond doubt how a ban can sometimes be counterproductive,” wrote Gurpreet Singh.



Straight.com – 7 April 2013:
Gurpreet Singh: Why an Indian ban on a movie glorifying Sikh militants is unacceptable
A ban in India on Sadda Haq (Our Right), a controversial Punjabi film about Sikh militancy, is highly undemocratic.


The Hindu – 6 April 2013:
Punjab, Delhi ban film based on Khalistan movement
By Chander Suta Dogra


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