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PUCL, January 2007

PUCL condemns the "ban" on film 'Parzania

Press release, 30th January 2007

[ See also, Why Gujarat 'Banned' Parzania One man's diktat is the last word: even Narendra Modi acquiesces By J.S. Bandukwala | Click ]

PUCL condemns the "ban" on film 'Parzania' declared by Sangh Parivar's groups and the "support" of the Government of Gujarat by keeping mum. We are also very much disturbed when the viewpoint of few groups like Bajrang Dal is considered as the viewpoint of 5 crore Gujaratis.

It is time for sensible people not to be silent spectators but to speak out against such fascist attitude of groups like Bajrang Dal.

We the common people of Gujarat always get disturbed on the issue of violence, whether it is domestic violence within the family, caste violence, communal violence or violence by State and Government on the working class. We are also very much disturbed when the viewpoints of few groups like Bajrang Dal is considered as the viewpoint of 5 crore Gujaratis. It is time for sensible people not to be silent spectators but speak out against fascist attitudes of groups like Bajrang Dal.

On 28th January 2007 an important meeting of PUCL discussed in detail regarding the unlawful "ban" on film Parzania declared by the Sangh Parivar groups. By keeping mum on the issue, the Government of Gujarat has endorsed the "ban" declared by them. We, the activists of PUCL condemn the Sangh Parivar's unlawful "ban" on 'Parzania'.

Parzania is a film by the Ahmedabad-based director Rahul Dholakia, which portrays the shocking story of a Parsi family caught in the vortex of violence unleashed on innocent people of Gujarat in 2002. This is not the first time that groups like Bajrang Dal, backed by the BJP, have gotten away with such undemocratic and unconstitutional actions in Gujarat.

This unlawful "ban" on 'Parzania' in Gujarat, is a slap on the face of all those who uphold the values of free speech and justice. We express our compassion and solidarity to Dara Modi and family, whose son has been missing since the massacre in 2002 and on whose experience the film is based, and to the hundreds of other families in Gujarat and elsewhere who have suffered immensely because of mindless violence and hatred.

We strongly feel that this film needs to be screened in Gujarat more than any other State in India. The State Government, instead of tacitly supporting the unlawful "ban", should encourage the screening of this film and ensure total protection to cinema owners, distributors and the viewers.

We demand that the Government of Gujarat take stern legal action against those who have gone on record saying that they will not allow this film to be screened. Those who oppose the screening should be made to realize that they and their methods cannot be tolerated in a democracy. The litmus test of a democracy is the right to dissent. It is easy for majoritarian views to be tolerated. Democracy needs the right to differ, debate and dissent like we need the air we breathe. The rule of law needs to prevail and that means respecting differences.

Surely, a State that wants to project itself as a place that welcomes free enterprise would not want to give the impression of encouraging lawlessness and intolerance. Diversity needs to be appreciated not merely tolerated. In that lies our collective welfare. And safety.

For People's Union for Civil Liberties,
Dr. J. S. Bandukwala, Rohit Prajapati, Chinu Srinivasan, Bharati Pramar

Johannes Manjrekar, Dr. Sujat Vali, Raj Kumar Hans, Trupti Shah, Maya Valecha

Mukesh Semwal, Tapan Dasgupta, Naginbhai Patel, Ziya Pathan, Jagdish Patel

Amrish Brahmbhatt, Manzur Saleri, Yusuf Shaikh, Dhriu Mistry, Shivani Patel

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014