Jahnu Barua withdraws his film from Assam film awards over Citizenship Bill

Published : December 10, 2019 14:25 IST

Jahnu Barua. A file picture. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar

The veteran filmmaker Jahnu Barua has withdrawn his film Bhoga Khirikee from the Assam State Film Awards in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) passed in the Lok Sabha yesterday. The CAB, he feels, will totally destroy Assamese society and cause fresh cracks in relations between communities.

Speaking to Frontline, he said, “Though I have issues with the NRC [National Register of Citizens], the reason for withdrawing my film is mainly the CAB. The kind of situation we are facing in Assam, we are not feeling comfortable. The future looks uncertain. As an artist, I feel insecure and uncomfortable. You can see there is a total breakdown in the name of national policies and agenda. Whatever is happening goes against my grain, the State’s inclusive culture.”

He refused to agree with the government’s attempt to allay the fear of the local people by saying that the CAB will not apply to border areas. He said: “One can unnecessarily argue on that, but the reality is that it is just a reaction. Personally I have seen Assam, the way it has been led by leaders. We have seen from time to time the government in Delhi tends to use a remote control. It is not the case when it comes to states like Gujarat and Maharashtra. They can decide their future, their fate. But a different yardstick applies to Assam. The government in Delhi wants to control everything from there. It is not actually controlled by Assamese leaders. It is controlled from Delhi. For example, even leaders are imposed from outside. A leader from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar won’t get elected to the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra or Gujarat, but from Assam. It is strange.”

He scoffed at the attempt to give the Assam problem a sectarian colour. “The government at the Centre thinks in terms of Hindu-Muslim. It tends to ignore the regional identity. The government might be having an agenda. We in Assam know our society. It is a profound society. Assam is a society which includes all people from all kinds of religions, caste, creed, and all. But it is cracking. And the leaders from Delhi are responsible for this.”

The Bill seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. “The State film awards are organised by the government. I cannot participate in them as the State government is supporting the Centre. The CAB is nothing but a Bill which is against the inclusive nature of Assamese society,” he said.

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