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Politics shouldn't curb expression

The Samajwadi Party’s misguided attempt at stopping filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma from shooting a film based on the November 26, 2008 terror attack is not only absurd, it is also sinister. It is a brazen effort at attracting the Muslim vote. At the very least, the community’s sympathy.

It is ineffective because the Muslim community knows that though perpetrated by Islamists, the 26/11 attack was a frontal attack on the Indian state by Pakistan, even if it was not executed by its military. Yet, the Samajwadi Party in Mumbai, led by Abu Asim Azmi, has consistently tried to appeal to the Muslims not as a community but as a mere vote bank.

Azmi’s social work pedigree is at best doubtful. His politics, though, has a lot of clarity — its core philosophy is of divisiveness. Therefore, his actions must be viewed with extreme cynicism.

It is not only an assault on the sensibilities of a city that had to undergo the most horrific terror attack, but also an attack on the freedom of expression of a filmmaker. One may or may not agree with Varma’s filmmaking (indeed, almost all of his recent films have been disasters at the box-office), but to stop him from making a film is not only unreasonable, it should attract some kind of legal action against the Samajwadi Party.

Of late, there have been so many assaults on the freedom of expression of individuals by the government and other political parties that it has become almost impossible to express one’s creativity, be it cartoons, films, books, plays or TV shows.

It is as if we have given up the right to decide to our political parties who, in their quest for votes, would go to any extent — even violence — to achieve their means. This is a trend that should be arrested immediately. Condemning the Samajwadi Party’s actions would be a good start.

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