CHANDIGARH:The release of several Punjabi movies based on the dark days of terrorism has got the state and Central intelligence agencies worried. The films have either been glorifying terrorists or criticising the state and showing police officers in a bad light. This, the state police feel, could lead to law and order problems and revival of militancy in the state.
A senior state intelligence officer says, “We have been sending inputs and writing to the authorities that such movies should not be released as they brainwash the youth who have not seen those days and make the militants their heroes.’’ He warns that “such one-sided distortion of history can lead to trouble, as youth discuss this on social media”.
The latest in the series of such films, Gaddar, which was released on Friday, depicts extra-judicial killings allegedly by police officers. It is based on controversial Punjab Police officer Ajit Singh Sandhu, who was involved in a number of such killings, including two high-profile ones—of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s kin Kuljit Singh Dhatt and human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra. Dhatt was eliminated by Hoshiarpur police in 1989 where Sandhu was DSP. According to police, Dhatt escaped from their custody while he was being taken for recovery of items near Beas river.
Apart from Khalra’s wife Paramjit Kaur, other witnesses were also implicated in false cases. Though Sandhu committed suicide in 1996, there were rumours that he is living abroad under a fake name. This is shown in this movie.
A few days ago, the Intelligence Bureau alerted the Ministry of Home Affairs about the sudden spurt in the production of Punjabi films that can exploit Sikh sentiments. In its report, it stated that these films were based on issues like Operation Blue Star and Punjab militancy. Some films feature the alleged police atrocities during the height of militancy in Punjab and also portray erstwhile militants as saviours of the Sikh community.
Bubbu Tir, a famous author and columnist, says, “We had passed though a dark tunnel for 10 years and there is no point in looking back with anger. We have to analyse what went wrong, where and how. Police and other agencies have to be more friendly. They have to understand what went wrong as they are answerable to the public.’’
She says that if someone takes an initiative to make these movies, they are open to criticism. “These facts have to come out and let us dilute this truth and give it to society in a fictional way. Our youth is now mature,’’ she adds.
At least six Punjabi films, including Quom De Heere (which depicted Indira Gandhi’s assassins as the heroes of the Sikh community and could not get a CBFC clearance) and Blood Street (showing how police tortured Sikhs post 1984) was released on May 1. Another Punjabi movie Saada Haq was released in April 2013 after some cuts following an order of the Supreme Court.
Radical Sikh leader Baljit Singh Daduwal says, “These movies have been produced so that we can learn from our past mistakes and not repeat them. The other reason is to bring out the facts about the people responsible for those dark days, so that future generations know what all took place and how.’’
Other films that are in the pipeline are Jinda and Sukha (based on the lives of Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, who murdered General A S Vaida, the army chief during Operation Blue Star; Patta Patta Singhan Da Vairi (based on the alleged police high-handedness during the militancy days) and Insaaf Di Udeek: Delhi 1984.
“The movies are a reflection of incidents which take place in our society and are based on facts, so they should be allowed to be screened. Let the public take a call on whether they want to watch them or not,’’ says Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa’s Kanwar Pal Singh.
Former Punjab DGP S S Virk says, “Movies have been made on the World War. If the basic facts are correct, there is nothing wrong in them. They should also be educative.’’