WELLINGTON: Bollywood movie “The Kashmir Files” has courted controversy in New Zealand with the country’s chief censor reviewing the film’s classification as concerns raised by the Muslim community.
The movie, written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri, based on Indian version of the incident, happened with Kashmiri Hindu pandits in Indian held in Kashmir, during 1990.
In the early 90s, when the freedom movement in Indian-held valley was on the rise, over 300 Hindu Kashmiri Pandits were killed while 70,000 Pandit families fled between 1990 and 1992, according to KPSS.
Indian govt held Kashmiri freedom fighters responsible for the killings.
New Zealand outlet Stuff reported that the country’s chief censor David Shanks is reviewing the film’s R16 classification after concerns were raised by the Muslim community ahead of the movie’s release on March 24.
According to New Zealand’s Classification Office, a R16 certificate mandates that a film cannot be viewed by children below 16 without adult supervision.
Shanks told the outlet that the classification office’s action does not mean the film is being banned in the country.
He added that the members of the Muslim community had approached him with concerns the film “could raise anti-Muslim sentiment and potential hatred”.
Shanks revealed that the situation was “complex” as the concerns of the community pertained to “behaviours on and offline in relation to the film, rather than the content of the film itself”.
The concerns raised were valid and serious, so it was important to “take stock and pause”, he added.
Shanks said that the film’s initial classification had been issued without knowledge of these concerns.
The chief censor’s move has been criticized by Winston Peters, the country’s former deputy prime minister and leader of the political party New Zealand First.
In a Facebook post, titled “The ‘Kashmir Files’ Censored: Another Attack on the Freedom of New Zealanders”, Peters said, “To censor this film is tantamount to censoring information or images from the March 15th atrocities in New Zealand, or for that matter removing from public knowledge all images of the attack on 9/11.”
He was referring to the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in which a single gunman killed 51 people and injured 40.