India blocks release of film accused of glorifying Indira Gandhi’s assassination

After protests and a massive uproar over a controversial Indian film slated for release Friday, the Indian government ruled Thursday to block the release.

If just 30 seconds of the promo is viewed, you may wonder why what seems to be a romantic movie filled with music and running around trees has sparked so much controversy. But the love story is secondary to the main plot, which is the assassination of Indira Gandhi, a former Indian prime minister.

Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by two of her bodyguards, who belonged to the Sikh minority religion. The reason behind the killing was allegedly Gandhi's decision to send troops into Sikhism's holiest site, the Golden Temple, to pursue militants holed up inside. The event reportedly led to hundreds of casualties.

Gandhi's assassination was seen as an act of vengeance, and violence broke out across the country, resulting in the deaths of at least 3,000 Sikhs.


The Washington Post's front page, the day after Gandhi's assassination.

The film's focus is not on Gandhi,  but on the lives of the men who assassinated her. The title of the Punjabi film, "Kaum de Heere," translates to "Our religion's diamonds," which many allege is a clear indicator that the film glorifies the men who killed Gandhi.

The movie's producer told DNA India that the allegations are not true and that "it is a completely balanced film wherein no religion or sect has been belittled. Some people are unnecessarily trying to create a controversy without watching the movie." 

Both the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main political parties in India, had called on the government to stop the film's release. Gandhi belonged to the Congress party, and her grandson recently ran in national elections in which his party suffered heavy losses.

The Home Ministry and the Central board of Film Certification, which barred the release, cited fears that the film could trigger religious violence.

India's censor board has been criticized for banning many films in the past, including "Black Friday," a film about the 1993 bombings in Mumbai.

 

Swati Sharma is a digital editor for World and National Security and previously worked at the Boston Globe.

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