INDIA has stopped the release of a film about the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, saying it lionises her killers and could trigger violent protests.
India’s film certification board said the movie glorified the Sikh bodyguards who shot Mrs Gandhi dead to avenge her suppression of an insurgency which culminated in an army assault on the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Sikhism’s holiest shrine.
Kaum De Heere, or Diamonds of the Community, had been scheduled to be released in theatres across northern India yesterday.
Certification board chief Leela Samson said India’s home ministry had expressed concern about earlier clearance given to the film and had asked the panel to review it.
She added that the ministry had received intelligence that the film could trigger violence between Hindu and Sikh communities.
Ms Samson said: “The film is double trouble. It glorifies Indira Gandhi’s assassins, who took the law into their own hands and it glorifies the hanging of the two men.”
The film is based on the lives of three Sikh men, including two bodyguards who shot and killed Mrs Gandhi against the backdrop of an insurgency that gripped Punjab in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Sikh militants demanded a separate state.
In June 1984, Mrs Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star, an army action to flush out hundreds of heavily-armed Sikh separatists barricaded inside the Golden Temple complex.
The attack with tanks and heavy weapons – which left hundreds of soldiers, militants and civilians dead – outraged Sikhs and led to a catastrophic breakdown in communal relations. Later that year, Mrs Gandhi was murdered and the country was swept by rioting which resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 Sikhs.
Officials said the recent arrest of India’s chief film censor over claims that he took bribes to speed clearance of films drew attention to Kaum De Heere.
Rakesh Kumar was held on Tuesday after a sting operation in which two of his associates sought 70,000 rupees, or about £700, on Kumar’s behalf.
During questioning, Kumar revealed that he had accepted a bribe of 100,000 rupees from the makers of Kaum De Heere to approve its censor certification.
The film’s producer, Pardeep Bansal, and director Ravinder Ravi have denied the charges.
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the main opposition Congress Party have called for the film to be banned.
However, Mr Bansal said: “It is a balanced film. Some people are unnecessarily trying to create a controversy.”
Ms Samson said the film had not been banned and could be reviewed again after suitable changes to the script and cuts were made.