Death threats to Indian filmmaker amid debates over rising intolerance in the country

A young Indian filmmaker’s life has allegedly been threatened by members of a student wing affiliated to the ruling government for making a riot documentary. Kumar Gaurav, 18, received the death threats. He said: 

“I am not terrified by these threats. No one can take away my freedom of expression and I will continue expressing. If they have problems, they can come and speak to me.”

It has been confirmed that Gaurav received death threats on social media by people claiming to be members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). It’s a right wing mass student organisation affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who are presently in power.

“The flow of threats started after I uploaded a four-minute trailer of my documentary, and in the past month I have been threatened by around five people,” said Gaurav. He made a 20 minute documentary entitled Curfew. It’s a film about communal riots in Jamshedpur, in which he portrayed how members of radical right wing groups indulged in ruthless violence against the region’s minority Muslim community. It was filmed during the communal violence that broke out on July 21 this year. Gaurav said his documentary features clippings in which members of right wing groups are seen indulging in open vandalism.

Gaurav, who is very passionate about photography and filmmaking, said that people were moving from one shop to another and enquiring if it was owned by a Hindu or Muslim. If the owner was found to be from a Muslim community, the shops were attacked. Gaurav said that he lodged a complaint with the Senior Superintendent of Police in Jamshedpur. In the last 18 months since the Narendra Modi government came to power, debate on religious intolerance is rife in India.

Currently over 65 top Indian writers, filmmakers, actors and artists have returned their national awards, which were awarded to them by the Indian government. The reason for this is Prime Minister Modi’s silence on the mass tension prevailing in India, including political murders and inaction against cabinet members and sister organisations delivering controversial speeches. The numbers are slated to rise in the coming days as more intellectuals are set to give back their government honours.

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