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Death Threats By ABVP To Indian Filmmaker Amid Debates Over Rising Intolerance In The Country

By Shamim Zakaria

08 November, 2015

While the debate on rising intolerance of right wing radical groups is augmenting, now an 18-year old Indian filmmaker has been threatened of life allegedly by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (AVBP).

Kumar Gaurav made a 20-minute documentary entitled "Curfew" – a film on communal riot in Jamshedpur, in which he portrayed how members of radical right wing groups indulged in ruthless violence against the minority Muslim community of the region, during the communal violence that broke out on July 21 this year.

In a telephonic interview Gaurav informed that his documentary features clippings which showed members of right wing groups indulging in open vandalism. He also confirmed that during the riots these anti-social elements were moving from one shop to another and enquired if it was owned by a Hindu or Muslim. If the owner hailed from Muslim community, the shops were attacked.

Gaurav who is very passionate about photography and filmmaking said: “I am not terrified by these threats. No one can take away my freedom of expression and I will continue expressing. If they have problems, they can come and speak to me.” He has already lodged a complaint with the Senior Superintendent of Police, Jamshedpur. In September this year his film was screened at the Udaipur Short Film Festival, organized by Cinema of Resistance, of which Gaurav is also a member.

“The flow of threats started after I uploaded a four-minute trailer of my documentary and in the past one month I have been threatened by around five people,” added Gaurav.

Gaurav is currently working for a local news channel airing in the region and also preparing for Jawaharlal Nehru University’s entrance exam.

It may be worthwhile to mention that this same ABVP has previous records of vandalism. Earlier this year member of this radical right wing student organization disrupted the screening of ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai’ in Delhi University. The film is based on the communal riots in the Uttar Pradesh district in September 2013.

In the last 18 months since the Narendra Modi government came to power debate on religious intolerance is augmenting in India. As of now over 65 top Indian writers, filmmakers, actors and artists have returned their national awards. The reason being Prime Minister Modi’s silence on the communal tension prevailing in India including political murders and inaction against his cabinet members and sister organizations delivering communally spurious speeches. The numbers are slated to rise in the comings days as more intellectuals are set to give back their government honors.

Earlier on November 8 a rally slamming selective outrage of the award returnees actor Anupam Kher led a rally to the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Some fringe entrants of the same rally heckled female journalists of prominent news channels and verbally abused them with cuss words.

(Shamim Zakaria is an Indian journalist and political writer presently based in England, pursuing a master’s program in International Journalism from University of Sussex. He hails from the northeastern state of Assam’s Guwahati. His works can be viewed on www.shamimzakaria.com)


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