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Vivek Agnihotri asserts, locks horns with Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in battle over narratives 

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (Photo: ANI)

Film maker Vivek Agnihotri seems to have caught the attention of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for making a film on one of the darkest chapters in the history of Bengal – the violence over the Direct Action Day.

On Monday, while announcing the ban on the movie, The Kerala Story, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ostensibly criticised Agnihotri for visiting Bengal to make a film. She said: “Since few days ago, the party nominated some stars… nominated by BJP, funded by BJP, came to Bengal also and along with some distorted stories, some distorted stories, they are preparing a film the Bengal Files”.

Without referring to Agnihotri by name, she said that the people who can defame the people of Kashmir and Kerala are now trying to defame Bengal also. Her exact words were: “If they can prepare The Kashmir Files to condemn the Kashmiri people, what is the fault of the people. We respect each and everybody. That is our constitution. Now they defame Kerala also, the Kerala people, the Kerala state also. Everyday they are defaming… to defame Bengal also…”

Agnihotri was quick to take the bait. He announced his new venture and responded by saying: “In this video, I guess, @MamataOfficial didi is talking about me. Yes, I came to Bengal to interview survivors of Direct Action Day genocide instigated by Khilafat. And the role of Gopal Patha. Why are you scared?”

Acknowledging that he is indeed making a film on Bengal and the four-day communal violence that shook Bengal in 1946, Agnihotri said: “The Kashmir Files was about Genocide and terrorism. On what basis do you think it was to defame Kashmiri people? On what basis do you say so maliciously that it is funded by a political party? Why shouldn’t I file a defamation case and a case of Genocide Denial against you?”

He added that his film on Bengal “is called The Delhi Files not Bengal Files”.

The Direct Action Day violence that lasted four days in Calcutta, was the result of a call given by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, in 1946 to put pressure on the British government and also force the Congress Party to agree to a partition of India on the basis of religion. The assertion by the Muslims led to gruesome violence as the British police, under orders from Bengal Chief Minister Huseyn Suhrawardy, were restrained from intervening in the large-scale violence that shook the nation.

Agnihotri’s movie The Kashmir Files, released in 2021, created a global buzz and a big controversy as it showed actual stories of Kashmiri Hindus who had been turned out of their ancestral homeland in a communal frenzy. The ethnic cleansing of the Hindus in 1990 had been whitewashed for decades till Agnihotri’s movie breathed life into the deeply disturbing and personal stories of the Hindus who had faced unimaginable violence, asked to convert and were forced to flee Kashmir.

The Kerala Story by Sudipto Sen highlights the stories of Hindu girls from Kerala joining global terror group ISIS after being converted to Islam. The film’s initial trailer created a controversy after it claimed that 32,000 girls from Kerala had converted and left the country to fight for the terror group. With mounting controversy, the film-maker modified the trailer to say that The Kerala Story narrates the story of three girls from Kerala.

With the Bengal chief minister jumping into the fray by banning The Kerala Story and critiquing Agnihotri, the director of The Kashmir Files got an opportune moment to announce his future venture on the violent and intriguing Direct Action Day.

Also read: Vivek Agnihotri fights back—slams foreign media for driving a pro-Jihadi narrative about Kashmir