There has been worldwide condemnation of endorsement and promotion of the propaganda film ‘The Kashmir Files’ by the Modi government where it has been granted tax-free status in many Indian states.
The film, while it presents a fictional story line carries propaganda aligned with Hindutva narratives promoting Islamphobia in order to justify oppression of Kashmiri Muslims and legitimise their impending genocide.
The film’s exclusive focus on violence of Muslims on Hindus with limited attention given to the overall history of human rights abuses in the state by Indian military, and the painting of all Muslims as active or passive participants in the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits has been seen as promoting Islamophobia.
Theatres across India have witnessed anti-Muslim hate speech including calls for violence against Muslims in general, killing of Kashmiri Muslims and raping of Muslim women, incited by activists of the ruling party and related Hindutva organisations.
Several critics of the film have compared writer and director of The Kashmir Files, Vivek Agnihotri espousing hatred of Muslims, with Riefenstahl, a Nazi propagandist who did the same with Jews.
Anuj Kumar reviewing for the film for the Indian newspaper The Hindu described the film as being composed of “some facts, some half-truths, and plenty of distortions” with brutally intense visualisations and compelling performances, aimed at inciting hatred against Muslims.
Rahul Desai reviewing for Film Companion, called the work a “fantasy-revisionist” rant lacking in clarity, craft, and sense where every Muslim was a Nazi and every Hindu, a Jew; with an unconvincing screenplay and weak characters, it was propaganda that strove only to tune in with the Hindu nationalist mood of the nation rather than offer genuine empathy to the displaced victims.
A number of community organisations have raised the issue of the film’s promotion and viewing by Indian diplomatic missions in Australia and New Zealand.
Concern has been raised that the narrative promoted by the movie is sowing sentiments of distrust and anger that could incite violence towards Australians and New Zealanders of the Islamic faith.
Organisers for the screening of the Kashmir Files, including HSS, the overseas arm of RSS, have publicly shown that their event was held in cooperation with Indian Consulate General in Western Australia.
In an open letter to the Indian High Commissioner to Australia, President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), Dr Rateb Jneid expressed extreme concern about the BJP government’s extreme rhetoric towards Islam and Muslims.
“The Kashmir Files is a distorted false narrative that uses hate and propaganda against Muslims. Nasty clips from the Kashmir Files are being shared on the internet and flagged by Hinduvta Watch where they chant and uphold that there shall be no Muslim any longer in India and that all Hindus should marry Muslim girls as a means of forced conversion to Hinduism. That is the effect that the movie has had on its viewership,” Dr Rateb Jneid wrote.