'The Kashmir Files' faces censorship row in New Zealand

'The Kashmir Files' faces censorship row in New Zealand

The movie has courted yet another controversy, not in India, but in New Zealand.

Vivek Agnihotri's 'The Kashmir Files' has been in the spotlight ever since its release.

The movie has courted yet another controversy, not in India, but in New Zealand. Now, the country's chief censor is reviewing the film's classification after concerns were raised by the Muslim community ahead of the movie's release on March 24.

On Saturday, New Zealand outlet Stuff reported that the country's chief censor David Shanks is reviewing the film's R16 classification after concerns were raised.

According to New Zealand's Classification Office, an R16 certificate mandates that a film cannot be viewed by children below 16 without adult supervision.

However, Shanks told the outlet that the action does not mean the film is being banned in the country.

He added that the members of the Muslim community had approached him with concerns the film "could raise anti-Muslim sentiment and potential hatred”.

Shanks revealed that the situation was "complex" as the concerns of the community pertained to "behaviours on and offline in relation to the film, rather than the content of the film itself".

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The concerns raised were valid and serious, so it was important to “take stock and pause”, he added. Shanks said that the film's initial classification had been issued without the knowledge of these concerns.

Winston Peters, the country's former deputy prime minister and leader of the political party New Zealand First has criticised the step.

In a Facebook post, titled The Kashmir Files Censored: Another Attack on the Freedom of New Zealanders, Peters said, "To censor this film is tantamount to censoring information or images from the March 15th atrocities in New Zealand, or for that matter removing from public knowledge all images of the attack on 9/11."

He was referring to the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in which a single gunman killed 51 people and injured 40.

"Mainstream Muslims have both in this country and around the world readily and rightly denounced all forms of terrorism on the basis that committing violence in the name of Islam is not Muslim.''

"Neither should steps taken against Islamophobia mistakenly lead to the shielding of terrorists in the name of Islam," Peters wrote.

He further said that terrorism in all its forms, no matter what its source, should be "exposed and opposed".

"This attempt at selective censorship would amount to one further attack on the freedom of New Zealanders and people worldwide," he added.

The film starring Anupam Kher and Mithun Chakraborty has been gaining a lot of attention from the audience ever since the movie was released in

theatres.

Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri's directorial movie is based on the tragic account of the Kashmiri Pandit exodus in the 1990s and the genocide that took place back then.

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