NEW DELHI: Ahead of the general elections, the information & broadcasting ministry has asked the Jammu & Kashmir administration to identify and report ‘resistance art’ that promotes anti-India narrative in the state. The order, issued by the ministry’s policy planning unit, mentions different art forms such as performance, visual art and literature that need to be watched.
“It has been learnt that in the Kashmir Valley, there is an emerging trend of using different types of art to shape and promote an anti-India narrative,” reads the order. The ministry has sought details of the activities carried out in the Valley between April and December last year.
However, officials concede it might be difficult to carry out the monitoring exercise. “Protests from student groups are varied in nature and the ambit of such art forms is quite wide,” said an official.
“The details have been sought from the PIB office in J&K as well,” said an MIB official.
Suhail Naqshbandi, a political cartoonist with Greater Kashmir, said such a monitoring exercise would muzzle dissent from within the Valley. “Art is art... As a political cartoonist, my job is to show the mirror. I do not recall artists doing anything illegal,” said Naqshbandi.
According to Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a political analyst from the Valley, the move is to appease Indian
votebanks. “There are already so many laws — sedition law, Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), Public Safety Act…. what is the point of issuing such an order?” asked Hussain.
“Kashmir already has a situation where freedom of expression gets trampled every day. This would become another tool in the hands of security agencies to harass people.”