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Muzaffarnagar riots film screening stalled in four cities: Organisers

IANS  |  Kolkata 

The nationwide protest screening of a documentary on the Muzaffarnagar riots was stalled by police -- who were allegedly tipped off by Bharatiya Janata Party supporters -- in four cities across India, organisers said on Friday.

Nakul Singh Sawhney's documentary "Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai" was screened in at least 60 different venues across 50 cities in India on August 25 by Cinema of Resistance (COR), which promotes alternate cinema.

The pan-India screening was a mark of protest against the "recent hooliganism by ABVP (right wing students' body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) goons" who "forcefully stalled" the screening in Delhi University's Kirori Mal College on August 1, organisers said.

Later, there were attempts to disrupt the showing at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in Delhi as well.

"In four venues in Mumbai, Madurai, Trichy and Shantiniketan, police (tipped off by unnamed sympathisers of the BJP) stopped screenings of the film citing the usual bogeys of 'law and order' or 'permissions'," said Sanjay Joshi, national convener, Cinema of Resistance, in a statement.

Joshi said, however, at each of these venues, the organisers and the audience are determined to arrange alternative screenings very soon.

"In Chennai, the police forced the screening out of its original scheduled venue into another one which led to an open protest on the beach by the organisers and the audience as a mark of solidarity," he said.

At the Visva Bharati University (VBU) in Shantiniketan, organisers and student viewers said the screening was stalled by police midway into the show, claiming they were apprehensive of a communal clash.

"Even now the screenings of the film are continuing and new requests to screen the film are pouring in from various parts of the country. Screenings are being organised in Nepal, UK, USA and Canada, at the time of this release.

"The call to resist appears to have given vent to people's pent-up anger against regular instances of vandalism, violence and bullying by the Sangh Parivar forces. This resulted in a huge unprecedented response, and at the time of filing this release, an estimated ten thousand people ended up watching the film all over the country," Joshi said.

In a clash between two communities in 2013, 67 people were killed in riots in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. Thousands were rendered homeless.

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First Published: Fri, August 28 2015. 15:58 IST