Says govt ready to provide security
Srinagar: The government on Wednesday said that it would provide security to open cinemas in Kashmir “because cinemas form part of normal work in current world”.
Welcoming the initiative of holding a five-day World Kashmir Film Festival in Srinagar starting Wednesday, the PDP-BJP government spokesperson, Naeem Akhtar, told reporters, “Our children who are in [their] 20s and 30s have watched nothing [in cinema] in Kashmir… [because] we have denied them [this facility].”
Akhtar said that cinemas are operating all over the world and “Pakistan has cinemas, now Saudi Arabia is [also] opening [them]… they have said that a cinema will be opened in Riyadh.”
“God knows,” Akhtar exclaimed, “why people are averse to it. Cinemas are everywhere, in homes, TVs, in our pockets on cell phones.”
Since armed militancy broke out in Kashmir in 1989, cinemas in Kashmir, particularly in Srinagar, were shut, and a majority of them were transformed by government forces into military camps.
At the function’s curtain-raiser ceremony on Tuesday at a local restaurant here, invited filmmakers and directors expressed hope that the opening of cinemas will “bring peace to the Valley”.
“(But) why people are being stopped from going to cinema halls, I don’t know,” Akhtar said after inaugurating the film festival at Tagore Hall. Students from various universities and several television artistes are attending the festival.
“Our government will make efforts in this regard,” Akhtar said when asked if cinemas were being reopened. “But society, all sections of society, will have to get involved. For how much time will we keep our children away from genuine entertainment?
“Our government can give safety, security, but society has to get ready for it… there is music, dance in marriages… we do everything normally and this [cinema] too is a normal work in current world,” he said. “But people need to help us and there should be no problem in opening cinemas.”
Akhtar said that the film festival led by actor-turned-director Mushtaque Ali Ahmad Khan was a “good beginning” in this regard.
“It is a new beginning in Kashmir,” he said. “There has been restriction on creativity for some time in Kashmir, but this is a good beginning. Youth will get a new way for their expression.
“The youth can make filmmaking their profession and prove their potential. It can prove a new superhighway between J&K and the world because there is no tension of borders and language,” Akhtar explained. “In music, direction, photography and cinematography, our youth can go a long way.”
Khan asserted on the occasion that no “dirty” thing was being shown to the audience during the festival. “Film is a medium, and we have selected the world’s best films.”