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YouTube bans Anthem for Kashmir, a documentary by film-maker Sandeep Ravindranath, following a legal complaint by the Government of India

Print edition : Aug 04, 2022 T+T-

YouTube bans Anthem for Kashmir, a documentary by film-maker Sandeep Ravindranath, following a legal complaint by the Government of India

Documentary film-maker Sandeep Ravindranath’s Anthem for Kashmir, a nine-minute short film on human rights violations in the Kashmir Valley, has been blocked for viewers in India by YouTube. The video-streaming platform’s ban follows a legal complaint by the Government of India.

Ravindranath has received a letter from the YouTube Legal Support Team that confirms that the Examination Committee of India’s Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeITY) had sought the blocking of the video. A note posted on the now-blocked YouTube clip says: “The content is not available in this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government.”

Speaking to Frontline, Sandeep Ravindranath said that he found it ironical that a “nuclear armed state is ruffled by a few minutes of video clips and the power of the pen.” He said that the government’s crackdown on people with a dissenting viewpoint smacked of the authoritarianism witnessed in fascist states.

Ravindranath said: “There is a pattern in the recent government crackdown on mediapersons, intellectuals, and social activists. The underlying objective is to silence voices that question its unilateral discourses on key issues pertaining to politics, policy-making, governance and essentially the structure and ethics of the state.”

Anthem for Kashmir is Ravindranath’s counter to the linear, misleading narrative vis-a-vis Kashmir that is depicted in an overwhelming section of the mass media. It captures provokingly the injustices and bloodshed that are an everyday ordeal for the people living in the scenic Himalayan valley.

Ravindranath said that while films like The Kashmir Files, which further the ruling party’s political discourse, are being endorsed by no less a person than the Prime Minister, there was a blatant attempt to suppress researched and informed work which takes a contrarian view. He said this was in keeping with the fascist spirit of invading intellectual spaces and taking complete control of how a nation thinks, believes, and acts. “They are changing the syllabus, glorifying the likes of Savarkar. It is quite evident that they are rewriting history so that the next generation will be ingrained with their idea of the state, politics and even civilisational values,” he said.

In an earlier interview to Frontline, Ravindranath had said that the clampdown in Kashmir in the aftermath of August 5, 2019 had motivated him to chronicle the human rights violations in the valley. “I was unable to reach out to my friends in the Kashmir Valley, an unnerving experience common to thousands of Kashmiris living in different States away from their families in Jammu and Kashmir. For years, I had seen provoking images of pellet gun victims, funerals of children, tear-gas shelling on protesters, and youths in handcuff. The normalcy narrative on TV was starkly in contrast to that,” he had said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI), Kerala Region, has condemned the ban on the short film. “The film opens a window into the real status of Kashmir. The film portrays the silent cries of Kashmir’s border villages where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is in force,” Chelavoor Venu, president, FFSI Kerala region, was quoted as saying by an English daily.