Tears and Wails

The notion of security has grown to absurd limits in the state

Screening denied


Bilal Jan—highly sensitive film maker of the much propagated movie ‘Ocean of Tears’ is disappointed, disturbed and distraught—robbed of his dream, ever since his documentary was proscribed for viewing in University of Kashmir. Supposed to be an autonomous institution for grooming free thinking, imbibing its wards with the desired sensitivity to have a feel of all that might be happening around, affecting their lives, the University at the eleventh hour scuttled the move to screen it. And that after initially permitting it, the reasons provided for change of mind were varied. Security concerns were obvious, posse of security personnel at the site providing the evidence. The top cop of the area-Superintendent of Police, Hazratbal area though, denied having any hand in it. In the face of the denial, Professor Zafar Ahmad Rishi, Registrar of Kashmir University was quoted as saying, "We had granted them permission to screen the film but stopped them after receiving a complaint from a person that his work has been plagiarized by the producers and researchers of the documentary,"…what an excuse?
Bilal Jan, the young film-maker known to me over years is cosmopolitan rather than parochial in his thinking, in his approach. As he explained his project to me a few years back and sought guidance, I pleaded for an even handed approach. Being a subject concerning women, he wanted to know the female social activists; he may get in touch with. The first person I recommended was Nyla Ali Khan—Omar Abdullah’s cousin. A known columnist and writer, Nyla is a US based academic. A visit home every year has Kashmir University as her preferred port of call. Nyla loves to relate and get related to, like her parents—Dr. Mohammad Ali Matoo—my senior colleague and Suriya Matoo—daughter of Sheikh Abdullah. Another lady I recommended was Prof. Nusrat Indrabi—an educationist of repute, an Urdu scholar and a social activist. Nusrat is the only female member of government appointed Awqaf-i-Islamia.
We discussed and decided that since the subject involves alleged atrocities by armed forces, he would need to get army on board to relate their version. Bilal noted whatever I recommended and got down to his job. Nyla and Nusrat provided deft comments on the plight of female victims of the unfortunate conflict. Quite a few analysts have suggested that rape has been used worldwide in conflict zones as a counter insurgency weapon to terrorize and subdue people not in sync with prevailing power. The study needs statistics to substantiate it, though the gathering evidence is compelling and points to truth in it.
Bilal, as he related to me, could not get army on board to the desirable extent, as he was told that relating the army’s point of view would need GHQ clearance. That wasn’t forthcoming, his project was getting delayed. Lest it gets derailed, he had to compromise doing without army’s comprehensive take that could have made it even-handed. That was not the only factor where Bilal had to face disappointment. I remember, he wanted to film a child bearing scene. He went to quite a few hospitals, the initial clearances culminated in denials as the administrators got scared that it might land them in trouble. I may not blame them, as the shadow of misplaced security concern hardly leaves anything untouched. Bilal, as he told them was willing to protect the identity of female delivering the child by covering her face. I suggested a female might film the scene, since the entry of male might be resented. Nothing worked, resulting in film not getting the desired sensitive touches.
Prior to planned viewing in the University auditorium, the 27 minute documentary was viewed by civil society members in a central city location. It stands known and noted that the production is supported by I&B Ministry through Public Service Broadcasting Trust [PSBT] in which the showcasing of human rights issues was allowed. “Censor Board showed flexibility and considered my case in multiple Board meetings and finally gave me the nod,” Bilal in painful daze, keeps on relating. The documentary though sensitively filmed has nothing that has not appeared in thousands of printed words about the alleged episodes of mass rape in Kunan Poshpra, the rape and the murder in Shopian, the twin rape victims of Sopore. All these statements favouring the viewing in University auditorium had hardly an effect on security apparatus operative in the state. Hence the ‘Ocean of Tears’ could not be viewed in the ‘Valley of Wails’.
The question remains—could the security personnel or the University officials be blamed? Could someone else in their shoes afford to behave differently? Isn’t the cop on spot, the University official a part of our being, a relative—near or distant, a friend or an acquaintance, a batch mate of yore? Isn’t it the misplaced security concern of the state that has taken the denial—proscribed viewing, far and wide, with even the Chinese press forgetting their Tinamen square massacre relating the episode with relish? Is the state bent upon refusing to grow and behave with responsibility, with far sightedness? Would there ever be an end to utopian thinking, to the myopic view, to the utter lack of sensitivity? 
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival] 

Lastupdate on : Fri, 4 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 4 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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