Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 5 News List

India bans documentary on Hindu-Muslim conflict

AP , MUMBAI, INDIA

Indian censors have banned an award-winning documentary that chronicles one of the country's most painful and deadly episodes of Hindu-Muslim violence.

Final Solution is scheduled for release in 40 art house cinemas in Germany next month, where it won an award at this year's Berlin Film Festival. But in India, the Central Board of Film Certification has refused public screening of the film, saying it might trigger more sectarian violence.

Filmmaker Rakesh Sharma said on Friday he would approach the Mumbai High Court to challenge the board's ruling.

"I will be going straight to court," Sharma told reports about his feature-length movie that records the 2002 religious rioting in the western state of Gujarat, which killed more than 1,000 people, most of whom were Muslims.

The riots broke when Hindu mobs set off a wave of revenge killings after the burning of a train that left 60 Hindus dead.

The attack was blamed on Muslims, but investigators have not been able to confirm that.

Sharma's movie weaves in speeches of Hindu nationalists with interviews of rioters and victims. The censor board said the documentary was "highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence."

"People who make hate speeches should be banned and not the filmmaker who records it," Sharma said.

The 210-minute movie won two awards at this year's Berlin Film Festival and one award at the Hong Kong festival. It wasn't allowed a screening in Singapore during the city-state's film festival in May, after its censor board deemed it "potentially inflammatory."

One chilling episode in the film shows a 4-year-old Muslim boy, named Ijaz, detailing in a singsong voice how he saw his grandfather and aunt being killed.

In the final scene, he recites his multiplication tables and then says in a calm voice he would kill Hindus, "because they did the same."

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