Two days after it faced vandalism by activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), youth wing of the BJP, at the L.V Prasad Preview Theatre, the film festival ‘Kashmir- Before our Eyes’ found another obstacle, this time in the police.
Screenings scheduled at ‘Lamakaan’, a cultural centre in Banjara Hills, as part of the film festival had to be cancelled allegedly at the behest of the Banjara Hills Police, who said they cannot provide police protection, and hence the screenings are not allowed.
“We applied for police protection after what had happened at the LV Prasad Preview Theatre, as this is a public screening. A constable came in the evening and advised us not to conduct screenings saying that the films are against the Indian Army, despite being told it was cleared by the Censor Board,” said the Trustee of Lamakaan, Ashhar Farhan.
The Banjara Hills Inspector too followed the constable and asked the organisers to clear off, as he cannot provide security for the film festival. “He said his staff are too tied up with VIP security arrangements, and security for the Ganesh pandals, and hence, can’t be deployed at the venue. He also left behind a constable to see that we do not go ahead with the fest,” said Mr. Farhan.
However, when contacted, DCP (West Zone) V.N.V. Satyanarayana, denied that the police had stopped the screening. “There is no question of stopping any show. We already told those opposing the films to approach the Censor Board. We have also acted sternly against the nine BJYM activists by putting them in jail for their vandalism in the L.V. Prasad Preview Theatre,” he said.
But, Lamakaan has decided to cancel the screenings scheduled for Wednesday evening. Earlier in the day, screenings were conducted at the University of Hyderabad’s Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication and Nalsar Law University. They will continue for two more days at UoH, English and Foreign Languages University and the Annapurna International School of Film and Media.
On September 6, the first day at the LV Prasad Preview Theatre, screenings were disrupted by BJYM activists who also attacked the projection assistant, smashed furniture and snatched the laptop of the curator. Subsequently, screenings scheduled for next two days were cancelled at the venue.
Meanwhile, the Ambedkar Students’ Association of the UoH, organised a ‘protest screening’ of the film Jashn-e-Azadi by Sanjay Kak, together with another short film The Valley of Innocence by students from SN School of Arts and Communication.