Film on Gujarat banned in Goa

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 24 May 2002 22:54 IST

The Election Commission in Goa has banned a documentary on Gujarat carnage, claiming that it has a potential to create communal tension in the state when Assembly elections are round the corner.

The police have accordingly been instructed to seize all the video cassettes.

The issue began with the police seizing one such cassette from a Congressman in Velim constituency in South Goa, while it was being viewed in public.

There are conflicting versions whether it is the same Hey Ram video film by Gopal Menon, which was released in Delhi a month ago and was publicly viewed in Goa at a function organised in association with Sahamat.

According to R P Pal, the joint electoral officer, the film is an edited version of Hey Ram, with some additional clippings being inserted into it, depicting failure of the Gujarat government led by the BJP as well as the prime minister.

Pal however admits that none of the officials, including the state chief secretary, have seen the original Hey Ram, but have opined that the documentary is objectionable.

Meanwhile, the cassette has also been sent to the chief election commission, for further comments and instructions on the matter, including taking action against those who were possessing and showing the cassette.

Though there was no official complaint from the ruling BJP camp in this regard, chief minister Manohar Parrikar had publicly cautioned the authorities regarding the film, stating that it would create communal tension.

Based on the instructions from the election commission, the police have decided to seize any such cassette under section 153 A of IPC, which deals with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth or residence, language etc.

Expressing shock over the seizure, Adv Amrut Kansar, belonging to the Forum for Communal Harmony, opines that it is a very human document. It consciously places the carnage in Gujarat in the perspective of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of communal harmony and calls for Hindu-Muslim unity.

The brunt of the criticism of those interviewed is not against any particular community but the police, states Vidyadhar Gadgil, another social activist. There is an instance of a Muslim family finding refuge in a Hindu household and shots of peace marches for communal harmony and an end to violence, he adds.

According to Pal, however, the content of the video film matches with the Congress strategy of making Gujarat carnage a national issue. "We cannot take a risk of it being an excuse to create communal tension during election period", he states.


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