Police action in Goa against screening of films promoting communal harmony


We strongly condemn the patently illegal police action in Velim in south Goa on May 21, 2002, whereby the video cassettes of a film being screened for promoting communal harmony were seized from a private show. It is ironic that the chief minister of Goa, who belongs to a party which is so blatantly spewing communal venom on the minorities in the country, claims that the screening constitutes an offence under section 153-A and 153-B of the Indian Penal Code. This section relate to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc.

Three independent filmmakers have made short video films following the carnage in Gujarat – Hey Ram by Gopal Menon, Evil Stalks the Land by Gauhar Raza and In the


Name of Faith by Pankaj Shankar. The films heavily rely on interviews with the victims of violence who unambiguously accuse the BJP state administration and the different wings of the Sangh Parivar and their ideology as responsible for the carnage. The films have a clear message of communal amity and express full faith in secular India. It is the secular message of these films that has rattled the BJP in Goa, faced with an impending electoral defeat.

The police action in Goa constitutes a gross violation of the constitutional right of freedom of expression. Given the complexion of the government there and the secular character of the films, this communal offensive against secular creativity has to be defeated by the joint efforts of all the democratic and secular groups.