The Kashmir Files, the Hindi film that released on Friday, has been granted tax-free status in several states across India.
Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, the story is based on the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandit community from the Kashmir valley in the 1990s. This film has an ensemble cast comprising of actors Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Darshan Kumaar, Pallavi Joshi, Prakash Belawadi, Puneet Issar, and Atul Srivastava, among others.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai announced on Sunday that The Kashmir Files will be tax-free in the state in order to encourage the people to watch it. He wrote in a tweet, “Kudos to Vivek Agnihotri for The Kashmir Files, a blood-curdling, poignant and honest narrative of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland.”
Earlier that day, Bhupendra Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat, had announced that the film had been granted tax-exemption in the state. Agnihotri expressed his gratitude to the CM and said the move would help the common people of Gujarat see “the biggest tragedy of independent India.”
Previously, on Friday, the Haryana government had issued an order that state GST would not be charged for the film in theatres.
The CM of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, also followed the same course of action citing that the film “needs to be watched by maximum people.” He stated that The Kashmir Files is a “heart-wrenching narration of the pain, suffering, struggle and trauma faced by Kashmiri Hindus in the 90s.”
It is notable that all of the aforementioned states are ruled by the BJP. In other states, BJP party members have either urged the respective state governments to follow suit or encouraged the public to go and watch the film.
Maharashtra BJP MLA Nitesh Rane, on Saturday, wrote to the state’s CM Uddhav Thackeray requesting a tax-exemption for the film.
In Delhi, BJP national spokesperson RP Singh announced in a tweet that he is offering free tickets to college students from Rajinder Nagar Constituency for The Kashmir Files.
Meanwhile, many social media users have taken issue with the ruling BJP party’s promotion of this film. Some questioned why films like Parzania and Firaaq, about the genocide of other communities, were banned earlier while The Kashmir Files is finding active support.
Rana Ayyub, journalist and a staunch critic of BJP, recalled how Parzania, about the 2002 Gujarat Riots, was banned by Gujarat theatre owners after “right-wing fundamentalists attacked the cinema halls.”
Ahead of the film’s release, a PIL was filed at the Bombay High Court by a resident of Uttar Pradesh, seeking to suspend the film’s release. The petitioner had stated that the film had a “very potent mixture of inflammatory scenes which are bound to cause communal violence in the prevailing circumstances in the country.” However, the court refused to halt the film’s release and dismissed the PIL.
On Monday, Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of Alt News, shared videos of hate speech in theatres following screenings of the film. His tweets were re-shared by other journalists who termed the communal hatred being flared by means of the film “terrifying” and “downright dangerous.”