Supreme Court Lifts Ban on 'The Kerala Story' in West Bengal: TMC Shifts Accountability to Opposition
In a recent development, the Supreme Court has overturned the ban imposed by the West Bengal government on the screening of 'The Kerala Story.' Responding to the court's decision, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has shifted the responsibility for any potential issues arising from the film's screening to the opposition, cautioning them against blaming the ruling party. The TMC's stance reflects their apprehensions of tensions among communities, which they believed prompted the state government's ban on the film.
Directed by Sudipto Sen and starring Adah Sharma, 'The Kerala Story' claims to shed light on the alleged forceful conversion of women from Kerala to Islam, as well as their recruitment by the terrorist group Islamic State (IS). The film was released in theater halls on May 5, but the West Bengal government swiftly prohibited its screening in the state, citing the need to prevent any incidents of hatred and violence.
However, the Supreme Court, in
its recent ruling, emphasized the duty of the state government to maintain law and order, especially considering that the film has obtained certification from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The court's decision implies that the ban imposed by the West Bengal government was unwarranted and has allowed the screening of 'The Kerala Story' to resume.
The TMC, while affirming their compliance with the court's order, urges the opposition not to construe it as a victory or defeat for the state government. State minister and TMC leader Shashi Panja stated that the ban was initially imposed due to concerns over potential communal tensions arising from the film. TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh echoed this sentiment, cautioning the opposition against blaming the ruling party if any issues arise from the film's screening.
On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the Supreme Court's decision, asserting that it exposed the TMC's alleged "communal
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politics." Senior BJP leader Rahul Sinha accused the TMC government of banning the film to send a message to a particular community, thereby attempting to create tensions among different groups.
The apex court has also directed the producer of 'The Kerala Story' to include a disclaimer in the movie by May 20, specifically regarding the claim that 32,000 Hindu and Christian women were forcibly converted to Islam. This directive aims to address any potential concerns regarding the film's content and its potential impact on communal harmony.
While the TMC claims that the ban was necessary to maintain peace, some leaders from opposing parties argue that the TMC's decision was politically motivated. Senior BJP leader and actor Rudranil Ghosh suggested that the TMC's ban was an attempt to consolidate minority votes ahead of upcoming panchayat or Lok Sabha polls. He emphasized that no other state had banned the film, highlighting the uniqueness of West
Meanwhile, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] leader Tanmoy Bhattacharya accused the TMC government of unintentionally providing "free publicity" to the film by banning it. Bhattacharya clarified that his party does not support the banning of any film, even if it serves as propaganda against the Left Front government in Kerala. He criticized the TMC's decision, suggesting that it inadvertently elevated the film's prominence.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court's decision to lift the ban on 'The Kerala Story' in West Bengal has shifted the onus of responsibility onto the opposition according to the TMC. While the ruling party maintains that the ban was initially imposed to prevent potential communal tensions, political rivals argue that it reflects the TMC's communal politics. As the controversy surrounding the film continues, it remains to be seen how its screening will unfold and what impact it will have on the socio-political landscape in West Bengal.