Gurpreet Singh: “Y” security for hatemongers, jail for those spreading love—that’s what India has become

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      The world’s so-called largest democracy has set another bad example in recent days.

      A poster boy for the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi, filmmaker Vivek Ranjo Agnihotri, has been awarded with “Y” security—normally reserved for police personnel and commandos.

      This came after Agnihotri was being widely criticized for making a film that has potential to disturb peace and harmony.

      The Kashmir Files claims to be a film based on reality.

      It is the story of Kashmiri Hindus who were displaced because of events in the Muslim-dominated state where an armed resistance for self-determination has been going on for years. The Indian government has been trying to suppress the struggle with an iron fist and has been involved in gross human-rights abuses.

      Ever since the BJP came to power in 2015, the anti-Kashmir and anti-Muslim rhetoric has grown in India. The government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already stripped Kashmir of its special status under the constitution and brought the state under direct rule.

      Any criticism of the hawkish approach of Modi administration on Kashmir is labelled as seditious.

      The film, according to some analysts, tries to portray defenders of human rights and social justice activists in a poor light and presents a one-sided version of what's happened in Kashmir.

      Following an outcry against Agnihotri's propaganda film, which many suspect might fuel tension, the filmmaker has been provided with “Y” security.

      Under Modi's rule, attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, and political dissidents have spiked.

      The Kashmir Files, according to political commentators can further vitiate the social atmosphere.

      Notably, Agnihotri is a shameless supporter of the Hindu Right. He was instrumental behind the term “Urban Naxal” that is frequently being used to silence the critics of Modi. It refers to urban civil rights activists, who face potential imprisonments for raising questions.

      The word Naxal was derived from village Naxalbari in West Bengal that saw the emergence of a revolutionary communist movement in late 1960s.

      The Kashmir Files shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering Agnihotri’s credentials. His intentions were always clear: to sell a story that suits the agenda of the BJP government.

      There is a reason why Modi supported the film, which has been given tax rebates. So much so that police officers are being encouraged to take leave and watch the movie.

      Video: The trailer for The Kashmir Files, which has been denounced as BJP propaganda by the film's critics.

      Even in Canada, people close to the Indian consulate in Vancouver are promoting special screenings of the film. Among them are those who hosted Modi when he first visited Vancouver in 2015. The ongoing efforts to promote such a film overseas is clearly aimed at countering voices in defence of Kashmir.

      It is pertinent to mention here that there were a series of protests against the Modi government in Vancouver following the abrogation of special rights to Kashmir in 2019. The Kashmir Files, therefore, becomes handy to silence global criticism.

      In the past, another Bollywood personality, Kangana Ranaut, was given “Y+” security after she vilified agitating Sikh farmers outside New Delhi. The area around the national capital witnessed a yearlong agitation against unjust farm laws from November 2020 to November 2021.  

      She has also been openly bashing secularists within Indian film industry and been a vocal admirer of the Modi government's policies.

      The national government granted Kangana Ranault Y+ security after speaking out against farmers protests in the national capital.

      Ranaut has also welcomed The Kashmir Files. Much like her, Agnihotri tried to malign Sikh farmers during their movement.

      All this is in sharp contrast to what compassionate and pro-people poets and scholars are being subjected to.

      Sometime after Agnihotri was given “Y” security, prosecutors opposed an attempt for permanent medical bail for incarnated Telugu poet Varavara Rao.

      Rao who is 81, is battling Parkinson's disease, an umbilical hernia, and a cataract.

      He was among those activists who were jailed on trumped up charges for merely standing up for the poor and the oppressed.

      Others like him include Anand Teltumbde, a published author and a columnist, and journalist and activist Gautam Navlakha, who were also thrown behind bars for questioning power.

      Former Delhi University Professor and a poet G.N. Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist, continues to be locked up under inhuman conditions. A collection of his poems and jail letters was recently been published by Speaking Tiger.

      His only fault was to expose the brutality of the government forces in the tribal areas where Adivasis (Indigenous peoples) are fighting against forced evictions by the extraction industry from their traditional lands.

      All these men weren’t even given any mercy during the pandemic when demands were made for their release on medical and humanitarian grounds.

      That’s what India has become under an outright fascist regime: those spreading hatred get VIP treatment and state protection, whereas those spreading love go to jail.