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|June 25, 2001||
'Gadar portrays Muslims in a derogatory manner!'
Close on the heels of angry protests over the screening of Hindi film Gadar - Ek Prem Katha in Bhopal recently, the Muslim Jagriti Manch has taken strong exception to some portions in the film saying it was a deliberate attempt to create a wedge between Sikhs and Muslims.
"The film, set in the pre-Independence era, depicting the mayhem of the Partition, portrays Muslims in a very poor and derogatory manner," says Sayyed Kalbe Hussain, president of the Manch.
The Manch has already given an ultimatum to the government to withdraw the objectionable scenes from the film by June 28. Otherwise Muslim youths would forcibly stop the screening of the film, especially in the Muslim-dominated cities.
Hussain, who is also peeved over the mention of his father and noted Shia scholar Maulana Kalbe Sadiq's name in the acknowledgements of the film, said he was filing a Rs 100 million defamation suit against the director and producer of the film. He said notices would be served to them on June 26.
Questioning the relevance of the Censor Board that has passed the film, he demanded that a review committee of religious leaders from all communities should analyse the film and decide whether it should continue to be screened or not.
The film, which was extensively shot in the state capital and its adjoining areas, invited lot of wrath last year during its shooting with several Shia organisations raising an objection over the picturisation of songs at the holy Bara Imambara. The controversy had later subsided when the script of the film was passed by the Shia clerics.
When contacted, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, who is also the vice president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said he was not aware of these things as he was out of the country.
Sadiq, who had passed the script before the shooting last year, said, "I had suggested some amendments in the script while it was being filmed here last year. But I am not aware whether they had been carried out or not." He said that, if need be, other senior Muslim leaders and theologians would be taken into confidence before deciding on a course of action.
Several other Muslim leaders like Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, Agha Roohi and Sajjad Nomani, said the community would sit and think over the issue.
While Nomani, who is also member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, visualises a deep rooted conspiracy to divert people's attention from the real issues and create law and order problem, Agha Roohi has appealed to the people to maintain calm and peacefully protest screening of the film.
Manch president Kalbe Hussain said a memorandum against the film has already been sent to some Union ministers, state Chief Minister and the Lucknow District Magistrate.
The Lucknow district administration has taken remedial measures and enhanced security arrangements in and around the cinema halls showing the film. Policemen in plain clothes have been posted at strategic points, a senior official said, adding that the situation was under control.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal, Master Tara Singh, today joined the protest against the screening of Gadar - Ek Prem Katha saying it was a "deliberate attempt" to create a wedge between Sikhs and Muslims.
"What the film depicts is ridiculous. Sikhs and Muslims have lived in amity and there is a deliberate attempt to create tension between the communities," Party President Rachhpal Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
The party demanded a temporary ban on the film till the objectionable portions are censored.
This is for the first time that a Sikh organisation has demanded the banning of the film, the screening of which has evoked widespread protests in Delhi, Lucknow and Bhopal.
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