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by HUMRA QURAISHI May 31 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 4 secs

Humra Quraishi explores Brinda Karat's latest book, about the intensified violence against women under the BJP-RSS regime, and also calls for an urgent halt the film “Hamare Barah”, which is harmful propaganda.

The ten-year rule of the BJP-led government at the Centre is marked not only by biases, slants, and communal tensions but also by the production of highly provocative films. These films, often lacking substance or factual accuracy, are made with the intention of spreading a particular propaganda against the Muslim community. The latest addition to this genre is the film titled "Hamare Baarah," initially known as "Hum Do, Hamare Baarah," before the title was inexplicably halved.

Last evening, as I watched its trailer, I was taken aback by the crude and communal propaganda promoted through this so-called film. The portrayals and scenarios depicted were of such poor quality and questionable intent that it's difficult to describe the shock they induced.

Set to release on June 7, 2024, "Hamare Baarah" is directed by Kamal Chandra and produced by Birendra Bhagat, Ravi S. Gupta, Sheo Balak Singh, and Sanjay Nagpal. The film tells the story of Manzoor Ali Khan Sanjari, a Muslim man who, after losing his first wife during childbirth, continues to have children with his second wife, now pregnant with the sixth child. When doctors warn that the pregnancy risks her life, Khan refuses an abortion. His daughter, Alfiya, determined to save her stepmother, takes her father to court.

In a highly underhanded manner, the film maligns the Indian Muslim community, particularly targeting Muslim men by portraying them as polygamous and as producing children solely to increase the Muslim population. This depiction is a gross misrepresentation of reality in India, and the filmmakers should be held accountable for spreading such harmful propaganda against a minority community that has already faced considerable threat and ridicule during the last ten years of BJP rule.

As a concerned citizen, I firmly believe that this film should be prevented from being screened. The trailer is not only disturbing but also provocatively inflammatory, with the potential to incite civil unrest and negatively impact the lives of many, as well as poison the minds of an entire generation. The release of this film could lead to significant social discord and should be stopped to maintain communal harmony.

I have just finished reading Brinda Karat’s latest book, “Hindutva And Violence Against Women” (Speaking Tiger Books). Recently launched, it focuses on the existing dark realities facing the women of this country under the Hindutva regime. Brinda Karat details the injustices heaped on our women in recent years – be it Bilkis Bano, whose convicted rapists were freed; the Kuki women raped and murdered in Manipur; the Hindutva campaigns in favor of the rapists and murderers of the Kathua-based 8-year-old Asifa Bano; and the cover-ups related to the Hathras rape victim, who was cremated in the dead of night by the State machinery.

The list of blatant abuses, cover-ups, and double-speak by the government is not just long but also deeply dubious and disgusting. To quote Karat from the introduction to this book: “When governments grant impunity to perpetrators of sexual crimes when such criminals belong to the majority community, no woman can be safe. But this is the process underway in India today.”
And if one were to question why there is a sudden focus on crimes against women, considering they have persisted for decades or centuries, Brinda Karat provides a detailed explanation. To quote her: “In India, we have, through the experience of our own history and through the freedom struggle, understood women’s status, including the multiple forms and methods of violence against women within the context of the political, socio-economic, cultural realities, including the caste system. Looking at the issue of violence against women in this broader framework shows us the changing dimensions of violence against women in India today. By change, I don’t necessarily mean something ‘new’ – the intensification of existing, negative, and sometimes toxic trends, which due to a host of factors become the dominant trend, also adds up to change. These changes are occurring as a result of the dominance gained by the right-wing communal and sectarian forces in India’s political and social life, leading to the formation of a government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and influenced, if not run, by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Let us call it a joint venture of the RSS and its political wing, the BJP.”

She further elaborates, “...But in the decade of rule of the present dispensation, we can see a fundamentally altered situation in India, because of the nature of the agenda and the program set by the RSS from its inception in 1925 - the agenda of building what they term a ‘Hindu Rashtra.’”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.