Indian filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri's "The Kashmir Files" has been declared tax-free in several Indian states, all of which are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The film, which is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s, hit the theatres on 11 March and has received adulation and criticism in equal measure. It stars actors Pallavi Joshi, Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, among others, reports the Hindustan Times.
Filmmaker Agnihotri claimed the film to be a depiction of the "truth of Kashmir", and said the key message is that what is known as the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is actually a "genocide". Opposition parties in India, on the other hand, have dismissed the film as a "propaganda tool" of the ruling BJP.
It has also faced charges of historical revisionism and unnuanced storytelling, in what many deem a ploy to foster prejudice against Muslims. The exclusive focus on violence of Muslims on Hindus is seen to be promoting Islamophobia by many in India.
Article 370 of the Constitution of India granted nominally autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. In the film, Article 370 is deemed as one of the reasons for the displacement of the Kashmiri Pandits. Blame is also attached to the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, and the Kashmiri-origin central home minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
The film also tries to depict Jawaharlal Nehru University as an anti-national, terror-friendly institution.
The central character of the film is shown as turning against the present day prime minister Narendra Modi due to the influence of terrorists. The film also focuses exclusively on the killings of Kashmiri Hindus in 1990 and afterward whereas Kashmiri Muslims were also killed during the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The Kashmir Files" has been made tax-free in the following Indian states, with other BJP governments likely to follow suit:
(1) Uttar Pradesh: Quoting CM-elect Yogi Adityanath, the UP Chief Minister's Office (CMO) announced on Tuesday that the film is now tax-free in the state.
(2) Goa: "The movie makes you numb, leaving you to introspect on why this history was suppressed and hidden from the people. The youngsters of India must definitely watch this movie to know what atrocities Kashmiri Hindus went through," tweeted outgoing CM Pramod Sawant, who led the party to victory in the recently-held assembly polls.
(3) Tripura: Biplab Deb, the northeastern state's chief minister, said on 14 March that the film "depicts the heart wrenching struggle and trauma faced by Kashmiri Hindus."
Madhya Pradesh: Describing the film as "heart-wrenching," chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said it should be watched by as many people of the state as possible.
(4) Karnataka: Hailing Agnihotri and his team, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai called "The Kashmir Files" a "blood-curdling, poignant & honest narrative of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their home land."
(5) Haryana: On Sunday, chief minister ML Khattar watched the film, which, he said, took him back to his days when he worked in the erstwhile state for the BJP.
(6) Gujarat: Chief minister Bhupendra Patel has decided to make 'The Kashmir Files' tax-free in the state, tweeted his office.
(7) Uttarakhand: Expressing his eagerness to watch the movie, outgoing CM Pushkar Singh Dhami said he has directed the chief secretary to make the film tax-free in the hill state. The BJP won the recently-held assembly polls in the state.