Over the last few days, not only Hindu community but a few other groups in Aotearoa, New Zealand, have been actively trying to ensure that the events that took place in Kashmir in 1990 are shown across New Zealand. The decision of classification change/and or banning the much acclaimed film The Kashmir Files in New Zealand is still sitting with the Classification Office. Hindu Organisations, Temples and Associations (HOTA) have taken an initiative to write a detailed letter to Censor Board and to the offices of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Chief Human Rights Commissioner, and Race Relations Commissioner.
The filmmaker, Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri, undertook extensive research to capture the real life experiences of Kashmiri Hindus, who were forced to flee the Valley three decades ago. It entailed interviewing over 700 Kashmiri Hindus over 3 years and sharing their experiences during that fateful time in the early 1990’s where all Hindus in Kashmir were forced to create new identities that aligned with the militants or were killed if they refused. Some reports place the number of this exodus and ethnic cleansing at 500,000. Several Kashmiri Hindus have subsequently made Aotearoa, New Zealand, their home.
According to Nitika Sharma, national Spokesperson of Hindu Council of New Zealand, the history of events that might be an uncomfortable discussion should not be swept under the carpet. “To move forward, heal and recover from any conflict, we need to provide victims with the means, medium and opportunities to share their stories,” she said. The film has been released in several countries including the US, Australia, the UK Kingdom, Canada, and of course India without any issues or reports of any violence following this movie. The Hindu community in New Zealand has been a peace-loving, law-abiding, and contributing community. They are also tolerant and well-integrated into the fabric of New Zealand. Hindus have always stood unitedly with other communities condemning all acts of violence and abuse. The film was classified as R16 and scheduled to release in New Zealand on March 24.
‘You have no locus standi to comment on Kashmir’
India warns China on its remarks on KashmirSoon after China dragged Kashmir issue at the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Pakistan, India has come up with stringent criticism. New Delhi told Beijing to refrain from commenting on internal matters.While speaking at the 48th meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had stated that his country echoed similar views that other Islamic nations leaders have shared here on Kashmir. Interestingly, Wang Yi will be arriving in New Delhi on Thursday.On Kashmir, we have heard again today the calls of many of our Islamic friends. And China shares the same hope,” Wang Yi said.Countering Wang, India’s External Affairs Ministry said that matters related to the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir are entirely its internal affairs. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that other countries, including China, have no locus standi to comment.He also stated that other countries should note that India refrains from a public judgement of their internal issues.Pakistan and OIC have always invoked Kashmir issues on different forums. On March 22, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan lambasted the OIC leaders and said that the group is not being taken seriously on international platforms.Speaking about the OIC’s role, Khan said, “We have failed both the Palestinians and the people of Kashmir. I am sad to say that we have been able to make no impact at all.”“We (Muslims) are 1.5 billion people and yet our voice to stop this blatant injustice is insignificant,” he said. Even with regard to the withdrawal of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir, Imran said “nothing happened because they (India) feels no pressure.”
“We have placed the highest respect into the hands of the esteemed democratic offices of the nation. As such, we respected the Classification Office and their decision of a R16 film to be released in the country. The Classification Office has long upheld their role with discernment and responsibility,” said Nitika Sharma
New Zealand has long held a track record for righting historic offenses and ensuring that the rights of those who have suffered in the past are protected. Kashmiri Hindus, too have long suffered. Their stories have been silenced for over 30 years. No victims should have to suffer this long in silence. As such, any move to ban the film from being shown in New Zealand will be denying Kashmiri Hindus a part of their history and their right to share their story. Senior political leaders of New Zealand, including National, ACT and New Zealand First, have been supporting the film’s release. “Those uncomfortable yet courageous conversations would also need to find a place in our society to enable the persecuted to have a voice,” said Vinod Kumar, President of HCNZ. “We request all communities to respect each other’s right to have their plights being shared. We request everyone to remain calm and allow those who do want to watch the film do so peacefully and safely once the decision is made by the Chief Censor,” added Vinod Kumar.
If there are concerns, the film could be reclassified to RP18 (restricted to persons 18 years and over unless accompanied by a Parent/Guardian) and released in cinemas.