The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea filed by the makers of the film ‘The Kerala Story’ challenging the ban imposed by the Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal on its screening. The plea, which also cites the decision by the Tamil Nadu multiplex association to withdraw the film from its halls, will be heard on May 12.
The film has sparked a major controversy with several political parties and their leaders dismissing it as propaganda and claiming that it was aimed at creating a communal divide. ‘The Kerala Story’, which was released in theatres across India on Friday, traces the story of a group of women from Kerala who are converted to Islam and go on to join the terror organisation ISIS.
Also Read: Mamata Banerjee bans ‘The Kerala Story’ in West Bengal
On Monday, Mamata announced the government’s decision to ban the screening of the film in West Bengal citing threat to law and order and maintaining peace in the state. On the other hand, the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have declared the film tax-free, with the former’s CM Yogi Adityanath stating that he will organise a special screening of the film and watch it with his entire cabinet.
The ban on the film has triggered a major backlash from the Bharatiya Janata Party which has likened the decision to tacit support to the ideology of terrorists. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who brought up the issue during a poll campaign in Karnataka, slammed the Congress for opposing the film.
Also Read: ‘The Kerala Story’ tax-free in Uttar Pradesh, says CM Yogi Adityanath
“It is unfortunate that Congress can be seen standing with this terror trend that is seeking to ruin the country. Congress is even indulging in a backdoor political bargain with people having terror inclinations,” the Prime Minister said, lauding the film for “bringing out terror conspiracies happening in Karnataka”.
Criticising Mamata Banerjee for her decision, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said, “Mamata Banerjee has done injustice to the sisters and daughters of West Bengal by banning the film.”
Following the release of the film’s trailer, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that at first glance, the film appeared to peddle lies aimed at creating communal polarisation and spreading hate propaganda against the state.
Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor was also critical of the claim made by filmmakers that about the “heartbreaking and gut-wrenching stories of 32,000 females in Kerala’, said it wasn’t “his Kerala story”. He also countered the claims of 32,000 women — the figures were eventually revised to three — and said that the number far exceeded the number of all Indians in ISIS, leave alone Kerala.
Separate pleas filed in the Supreme Court and the Kerala High Court, demanding a stay on the release of the film, were turned down ahead of its release.